United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry


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.[3]

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.[3] 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.[4]

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."[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

It became the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry in 1884, a reflection of the growing importance of forests to the country's needs.[8] 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".[9]


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.[10]

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."[10]

Members, 116th Congress

Majority Minority

Members, 115th Congress

Majority Minority

Source [11]


Subcommittees[12] Chair Ranking members
Commodities, Markets and Trade John Boozman (R-AR) Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Rural Development and Energy Joni Ernst (R-IA) Tina Smith (D-MN)
Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources Steve Daines (R-MT) Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Nutrition, Agricultural Research and Specialty Crops Deb Fischer (R-NE) Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA)
Livestock, Marketing and Agriculture Security Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)


The committee, under its various names, has been chaired by the following senators:[13]

Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, 1829–1857

Name Party State Years
William Marks National Republican Pennsylvania 1829–1831
Horatio Seymour National Republican Vermont 1831–1833
Bedford Brown Democratic North Carolina 1833–1836
John Page Democratic 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
Pierre Soulé Democratic Louisiana 1851–1853
Philip Allen Democratic Rhode Island 1853–1857

Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, 1863–1884

Name Party State Years
John Sherman Republican Ohio 1863–1867
Simon Cameron Republican Pennsylvania 1867–1871
Oliver P. 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

Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry, 1884–1977

Name Party State Years
Warner Miller Republican New York 1884–1887
Thomas W. 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
Francis E. Warren Republican Wyoming 1910–1911
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

Chairmen of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, 1977–present

Name Party State Years
Herman E. Talmadge Democratic Georgia 1977–1981
Jesse Helms Republican North Carolina 1981–1987
Patrick Leahy Democratic Vermont 1987–1995
Richard Lugar Republican Indiana 1995–2001
Tom Harkin Democratic Iowa 2001
Richard Lugar Republican Indiana 2001
Tom Harkin Democratic Iowa 2001–2003
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–present

See also


  1. "Senator Roberts Makes History" (Press release). January 8, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  2. "Jurisdiction". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  3. Register of Debates in Congress. December 9, 1825. pp. 5–6.
  4. "Chapter 1: The Committee is Created: 1825–1857". The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 1825–1998. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  5. Congressional Globe, December 23, 1856, pp. 182–184.
  6. Journal of the Senate, March 5, 1857, p. 386.
  7. Daniel J. Boorstin (1973), The Americans: The Democratic Experience p. 119, New York: Vintage Press.
  8. U.S. Senate (1976). Temporary Select Committee to Study the Senate Committee System, p. 15. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
  9. "Chapter 7: Borrowing and Credit: 1970–1979". The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 1825–1998. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  10. "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.
  11. "U.S. Senate: Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry". www.senate.gov. Retrieved April 11, 2018.
  12. "Subcommittees". Retrieved September 27, 2018.
  13. "Appendix I: Chairmen of the Committee On Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, 1825 – 1997". The United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry 1825–1998. Retrieved September 27, 2018.
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