The important chairmanship left vacant on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee as a result of the death of Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) last month produced a ripple effect across key committees for the dairy processing industry.
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT), the next in line to assume the chairmanship on HELP, declined it in favor of keeping his position as chair of the Banking Committee. As a result, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) (pictured far right) was selected to succeed Kennedy as HELP chairman. In his new role, Harkin will lead the committee with primary jurisdiction on healthcare.
Although Harkin will remain a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, his acceptance of the HELP gavel forced him to give up his chairmanship of the Agriculture Committee. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) was selected last week to succeed Harkin as chair.
"IDFA congratulates Senator Lincoln on her appointment as chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry," said Jerry Slominski, senior vice president for legislative affairs and economic policy. "We look forward to continuing to work with her to advance policies that will support the growth of domestic and international dairy markets and promote milk and dairy products as part of a healthy diet for all Americans."
Lincoln has served on the Senate Agriculture Committee, which has jurisdiction over child nutrition reauthorization, farm bill implementation and regulation of commodities, since January 1999. She has served as the chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Revitalization, Conservation, Forestry and Credit during the current 111th Congress.
As a member of the House of Representatives, she also served on the House Committee on Agriculture from 1993-1995. She is the first woman to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee in its 184-year history.