Merkley to Maintain Key Position as Top Democrat on Agriculture Appropriations

Merkley to Maintain Key Position as Top Democrat on Agriculture Appropriations

Powerful subcommittee controls funding that is essential to rural development, Oregon farmers and ranchers, and public health

WASHINGTON – Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley announced that in the 115th Congress he will continue serving as 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 economic times. I’ve been proud to fight to create good jobs, protect rural housing, and boost Oregon’s incredible agricultural and timber economy. I’m excited to keep working for Oregon in this key position.” 

Since taking over as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee two years ago, Merkley has delivered key victories for rural Oregon, including heading off a looming crisis in rural affordable housing, maintaining funding for local agricultural research in Eastern Oregon, kickstarting a low-cost loan program for rural electric co-ops to help their customers perform energy- and cost-saving renovations, and winning key investments in Oregon’s leadership in agricultural specialties and cross-laminated timber (CLT). 

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.

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.

Four 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.