When it comes to setting agriculture policy, Nebraska needs a seat at the table, plain and simple.
After a year without a place on the Senate Agriculture Committee, the state is again represented – this time, by Sen. Deb Fischer. She announced her selection to fill a vacancy earlier this week, and the timing for her new assignment is ideal.
With the 2014 Farm Bill set to expire this year and a new one being written, Nebraska once more has a formal voice in the process, and not a moment too soon.
There’s no need to belabor the struggles in domestic markets (low commodity prices) and uncertainty in overseas ones (trade agreements) in this space. In this state, where one in four jobs is tied to agriculture and 91 percent of the total land area is used for agricultural production, the significance of having direct input from someone who understands the business can’t be overstated.
As most know, the state’s senior U.S. senator and her family have long operated a ranch in Cherry County. Her background in farming and ranching makes her a well-qualified and capable representative for the state’s producers and rural businesses behind this industry, which rakes in $23 billion annually for Nebraska.
Fischer wrote in a column that the committee’s chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., referred to her as an “honorary member” of the Senate Agriculture Committee. That’s nice, considering Fischer’s long involvement on topics of interest in agriculture, nutrition and rural affairs, but the state will be better served once again by having an official member.
Nebraska’s one-year absence on the committee was spurred by Sen. Ben Sasse’s abrupt departure last January to join the Senate Judiciary and Armed Services committees, the latter of which also boasts Fischer is a member.
Having two voting members from the state that houses Offutt Air Force Base and U.S….