Roberts’ demotion another blow to Kansas’ clout

Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., tried his best to cast the loss of the ranking Republican spot on the Senate Agriculture Committee in a positive light, promising in a statement to “remain a strong and vocal champion for agriculture as a senior member of the committee” and reassuring Kansas farmers and ranchers “that I will continue to be your voice and your champion at every turn.” No doubt he will influence the renewed effort to pass a farm bill and other issues however he can. But Roberts’ replacement as ranking member by Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., was good for Southern farmers and a particularly frustrating blow for Kansas, which just saw its role in agricultural policy diminished last month when Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Fowler, was booted off the House Agriculture Committee. Politico noted that Roberts was a “frequent thorn in the side of the South since he has been one of the leading opponents of target price supports important to rice, peanut and wheat producers from the region.” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., told Politico Thursday that “Pat Roberts has been good to Southern crops and he is a good friend,” but added with a smile: “It looks like we’ll be eating rice for dinner tonight.”