United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry

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Senate Agriculture Committee
Standing committee
Seal of the United States Senate.svg
United States Senate
116th Congress
FormedDecember 9, 1825
ChairDebbie Stabenow (D)
Since January 20, 2021
Ranking memberVacant (R)
Since January 20, 2021
Political partiesMajority (11)
  •   Republican (11)
Minority (9)
Policy areasAgriculture, Crop insurance, Farm bill, Farm credit, Food stamps, Food inspection, Forestry, Home economics, Nutrition, Rural development, Rural electrification, Watersheds
Oversight authorityDepartment of Agriculture, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Farm Credit Administration, Commodity Credit Corporation, Federal Agricultural Mortgage Corporation, United States Forest Service
House counterpartCommittee on Agriculture
Meeting place
328A Russell Senate Office Building

The Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry is a committee of the United States Senate empowered with legislative oversight of all matters relating to the nation's agriculture industry, farming programs, forestry and logging, and legislation relating to nutrition, home economics, and rural development.[1]


Founded in 1825 the Committee was formed at the request of Senator William Findlay from Pennsylvania. Arguing that agriculture was as important to national progress as commerce and manufacturing, Findlay succeeded in persuading the full Senate to divide the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures into two separate committees. The Committee on Agriculture was formed by resolution on December 9, 1825.[2]

During the first four decades of the existence of this committee, the need for it was repeatedly called into question. At that time in America, nearly ⅔ of the population was directly engaged in agriculture.[2] As such, issues related to agriculture overlapped with areas covered by other committees and were often referred to those committees instead of the Agriculture Committee.[3]

Following a debate over the necessity of various committees to have need of the services of a dedicated clerk, a Special Committee was formed to investigate ways to "reduce the number and increase the efficiency of the committees."[4] On February 17, 1857, the Special Committee submitted a plan of reorganization for the committees that did not include the Agriculture Committee. During a special session of the Senate, on March 5, 1857, the Senate approved the Special Committees recommendations and the Committee on Agriculture was dissolved.[5]

In 1862, the country was embroiled in the Civil War, a large influx of immigrants was occurring and the nation was moving towards industrialization. That year, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Organic Act recreating the Department of Agriculture.[6]

It became the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in 1884, a reflection of the growing importance of forests to the country's needs.[7] It was renamed again to the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry in 1977. Nutrition was added to the name after the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 directed the Department of Agriculture to "conduct more human nutrition research, establish a national nutrition education program and develop a system to monitor America's nutritional status".[8]


In accordance of Rule XXV of the United States Senate, all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating to the following subjects are referred to the Agriculture Committee:

  1. Agricultural economics and research.
  2. Agricultural extension services and experiment stations.
  3. Agricultural production, marketing, and stabilization of prices.
  4. Agriculture and agricultural commodities.
  5. Animal industry and diseases.
  6. Crop insurance and soil conservation.
  7. Farm credit and farm security.
  8. Food from fresh waters.
  9. Food stamp programs.
  10. Forestry, and forest reserves and wilderness areas other than those created from the public domain.
  11. Home economics.
  12. Human nutrition.
  13. Inspection of livestock, meat, and agricultural products.
  14. Pests and pesticides.
  15. Plant industry, soils, and agricultural engineering.
  16. Rural development, rural electrification, and watersheds.
  17. School nutrition programs.[9]

The Agriculture Committee is also charged "to study and review, on a comprehensive basis, matters relating to food, nutrition, and hunger, both in the United States and in foreign countries, and rural affairs, and report thereon from time to time."[9]

Members, 116th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority

Members, 115th Congress[edit]

Majority Minority

Source [10]


Subcommittees[11] Chair Ranking members
Commodities, Markets and Trade John Boozman (R-AR) Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources Mike Braun (R-IN) Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Livestock, Marketing and Agriculture Security Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Nutrition, Agricultural Research and Specialty Crops Deb Fischer (R-NE) Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA)
Rural Development and Energy Joni Ernst (R-IA) Tina Smith (D-MN)


The committee, under its various names, has been chaired by the following senators:[12]

Chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, 1825–1857[edit]

Chair Party State Years
William Findlay Jacksonian Pennsylvania 1825-1826
Calvin Willey Adams Connecticut 1826-1827
John Branch Jacksonian North Carolina 1827-1828
Ephraim Bateman Adams New Jersey 1828-1829
Charles D. Bouligny Adams Louisiana 1829
William Marks Anti-Jackson Pennsylvania 1829–1831
Horatio Seymour Anti-Jackson Vermont 1831–1833
Bedford Brown Jacksonian North Carolina 1833–1836
John Page Jacksonian New Hampshire 1836–1837
Perry Smith Democratic Connecticut 1837–1839
Alexander Mouton Democratic Louisiana 1839–1841
Lewis F. Linn Democratic Missouri 1841–1843
William Upham Whig Vermont 1843–1845
Daniel Sturgeon Democratic Pennsylvania 1845–1851
Presley Spruance[13] Whig Delaware 1851
Pierre Soule Democratic Louisiana 1851–1853
Philip Allen Democratic Rhode Island 1853–1857

Chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, 1863–1884[edit]

Chair Party State Years
John Sherman Republican Ohio 1863–1864
James H. Lane Republican Kansas 1864-1865
John Sherman Republican Ohio 1865-1867
Simon Cameron Republican Pennsylvania 1867–1871
Oliver Morton Republican Indiana 1871–1872
Frederick T. Frelinghuysen Republican New Jersey 1872–1877
Algernon S. Paddock Republican Nebraska 1877–1879
John Johnston Democratic Virginia 1879–1881
William Mahone Readjuster/Republican Virginia 1881-1883
Warner Miller Republican New York 1883-1884

Chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, 1884–1977[edit]

Chair Party State Years
Warner Miller Republican New York 1884–1887
Thomas Palmer Republican Michigan 1887–1889
Algernon S. Paddock Republican Nebraska 1889–1893
James Z. George Democratic Mississippi 1893–1895
Redfield Proctor Republican Vermont 1895–1908
Henry C. Hansbrough Republican North Dakota 1908–1909
Jonathan P. Dolliver Republican Iowa 1909–1910
Henry E. Burnham Republican New Hampshire 1911–1913
Thomas P. Gore Democratic Oklahoma 1913–1919
Asle J. Gronna Republican North Dakota 1919–1921
George W. Norris Republican Nebraska 1921–1926
Charles McNary Republican Oregon 1926–1933
Ellison D. Smith Democratic South Carolina 1933–1944
Elmer Thomas Democratic Oklahoma 1944–1947
Arthur Capper Republican Kansas 1947–1949
Elmer Thomas Democratic Oklahoma 1949–1951
Allen J. Ellender Democratic Louisiana 1951–1953
George D. Aiken Republican Vermont 1953–1955
Allen J. Ellender Democratic Louisiana 1955–1971
Herman E. Talmadge Democratic Georgia 1971–1977

Chairs of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, 1977–present[edit]

Chair Party State Years
Herman E. Talmadge Democratic Georgia 1977–1981
Jesse Helms Republican North Carolina 1981–1987
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermont 1987–1995
Richard G. Lugar Republican Indiana 1995–2001
Thomas Harkin Democratic Iowa 2001[14]
Richard G. Lugar Republican Indiana 2001
Thomas Harkin Democratic Iowa 2001–2003[15]
Thad Cochran Republican Mississippi 2003–2005
Saxby Chambliss Republican Georgia 2005–2007
Tom Harkin Democratic Iowa 2007–2009
Blanche Lincoln Democratic Arkansas 2009–2011
Debbie Stabenow Democratic Michigan 2011–2015
Pat Roberts Republican Kansas 2015–2021

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Jurisdiction". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Register of Debates in Congress. December 9, 1825. pp. 5–6.
  3. ^ "Chapter 1: The Committee is Created: 1825–1857". The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 1825–1998. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  4. ^ Congressional Globe, December 23, 1856, pp. 182–184.
  5. ^ Journal of the Senate, March 5, 1857, p. 386.
  6. ^ Daniel J. Boorstin (1973), The Americans: The Democratic Experience p. 119, New York: Vintage Press.
  7. ^ U.S. Senate (1976). Temporary Select Committee to Study the Senate Committee System, p. 15. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
  8. ^ "Chapter 7: Borrowing and Credit: 1970–1979". The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 1825–1998. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  9. ^ a b "Jurisdiction". The United States Senate Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry. Retrieved May 31, 2019. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  10. ^ "U.S. Senate: Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry". www.senate.gov. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  11. ^ "Subcommittees". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  12. ^ "Chairmen of Senate Standing Committees 1789-present" (PDF). Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  13. ^ On March 4, 1851, upon convening in special session, the Senate resolved, “That the committees of the Senate at the Executive session shall be formed and constituted the same as at the last session of Congress, except where vacancies have occurred by the expiration of the term of any senator, and in such cases said vacancies shall be filled by the Chair.” The terms of both the chairman (Daniel Sturgeon) and 2nd most senior member of this committee having expired, Presley Spruance has been included as chairman on this list.
  14. ^ At the beginning of the 107th Congress in January 2001 the Senate was evenly divided. With a Democratic president and vice president still serving until January 20, the Democratic vice president was available to break a tie, and the Democrats thus controlled the Senate for 17 days, from January 3 to January 20. On January 3 the Senate adopted S. Res. 7 designating Democratic senators as committee chairmen to serve during this period and Republican chairmen to serve effective at noon on January 20, 2001.
  15. ^ On June 6, 2001, the Democrats took control of the Senate after Senator James Jeffords (VT) changed from the Republican Party to Independent and announced that he would caucus with the Democrats.

External links[edit]