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Cochran may challenge Roberts for Ag committee leadership

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.-Miss

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., is considering challenging Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for the position of ranking member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Politico reported late today.

Cochran, who is the ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Committee, must give up that position at the end of this year because Republican Party rules limit the terms of senators’ leadership position.

Roberts has said he intends to remain in the Agriculture Committee position, but Cochran has said that if Roberts will not give it up, he will push it to a vote, Politico said. That would mean the Republican members of the Agriculture committee and possibly the Republican caucus would make the determination.

The impact on the fate of the farm bill this year is unclear. The Senate has passed a bill, and farm groups have been urging the House to take up the bill the House Agriculture Committee has passed.

But southern members of the Senate and southern farmers and their lobbyists have been intensely dissatisfied with the commodity title of the Senate farm bill, which they view as beneficial to the corn and soybean industry at the expense of rice and peanut interests. The version of the farm bill passed by the House Agriculture Committee is viewed as much more acceptable to southern interests.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., has appeared more willing to compromise on the two versions of the bill than Roberts has.

2 GOP senators may fight over Ag panel