Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) confirmed Friday she will take over as head of the influential Senate Agriculture Committee in the next Congress.
Stabenow replaces the outgoing Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), who lost her bid for reelection to Republican John Boozman. The junior senator from Michigan is fifth in seniority among Democrats on the committee, but the four ahead of her all chair other committees.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, as we begin writing a new farm bill that once again recognizes the importance of America’s agricultural economy and rural communities,” Stabenow said in a statement.
Republicans swept almost every major race in Michigan during November's midterms, meaning Stabenow will likely face a stiff challenge when she runs for reelection in 2012. Possible challengers include Reps. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) and Mike Rogers (R-Mich.)
As chairwoman, Stabenow will likely fight to preserve some of the billions in agricultural and nutrition subsidies that were part of the 2008 bill. In her statement, she emphasized the importance of farms to Michigan's economy, which has been hit heavily by the decline of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
"Agriculture is critical to Michigan’s economy, employing a quarter of our workforce," Stabenow said. "Not only does agriculture create jobs and feed our families across America, but it is also helping us develop new fuels and energy sources."