Merkley Becomes Top Democrat on Agriculture Appropriations

WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced that in the 114th Congress he will become the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, putting him in a powerful position to advocate for Oregon’s rural communities, agriculture research institutions, and ranching and farming families.

“Oregon’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities deserve a strong voice in the Senate,” said Merkley. “Oregon’s rural communities are among the most beautiful and unique places in our nation, but too many families in rural Oregon are struggling with tough economies. I’ve been fighting to create good jobs, grow Oregon’s small businesses and family farms, and ensure that every Oregon family has a shot at the American dream – and that’s exactly what I’ll continue doing with this new platform to work for Oregon’s priorities.”

The Agriculture Subcommittee oversees the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), controlling funding for rural development, agricultural research, and programs that are key to Oregon’s timber and biomass industries. Over the last two years, Merkley has used his position as a member of the Subcommittee to fight and deliver on Oregon priorities such as specialty crop funding, organic crop insurance, and OSU research to strengthen Western forests and improve forest industries.

In addition, as one of the Senate’s leading anti-tobacco advocates, he has used his perch to press the FDA to step up and do more to protect children from tobacco and nicotine addiction.

Two years ago, Merkley became the first Oregonian to serve on either the House or Senate Appropriations Committee since his mentor, Senator Mark Hatfield, retired in 1997.