Sen. Bob Casey (D, PA) surrendered his Senate Agriculture Committee seat in favor of a new spot on the tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, making room for interim Sen. William “Mo” Cowan (D, MA) to join the ag panel, the first Massachusetts Senator to sit on the panel since 1870. Cowan, who was appointed to the seat vacated by Sen. John Kerry (D, MA) when he was confirmed as Secretary of State, said he grew up on a working farm in North Carolina, and would work to get aid for Massachusetts’ fisherman in the Farm Bill.
The full committee also announced subcommittee chairs this week, though the subcommittee system is not as active in the Senate as in the House. Cowan is one of three freshmen Senators who will chair subcommittees as he takes over the nutrition, specialty crops, food and ag research subcommittee.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D, ND) will chair the jobs, rural economic growth and energy innovation subcommittee, and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D, IN) will chair the commodities, markets, trade and risk management subcommittee. The other two subcommittees will be chaired by Sen. Mike Bennet (D, CO) on conservation, forestry and natural resources, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D, NY) on livestock, dairy, poultry, marketing and agricultural security.