Like many Nebraskans, my life has been shaped by agriculture. For over 40 years, I’ve worked with agriculture and rural development organizations across our state and recognized how the success of ag producers is connected to the success of our state as a whole. As a state senator in the Nebraska Legislature and as a U.S. senator, common-sense agriculture policies have always been a top priority for me.

Now, I have an opportunity to be more involved at the federal level. I am happy to announce I have joined the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee.

As the committee’s chairman, Sen. Pat Roberts has said numerous times in the past, I’ve always been an honorary member of the Senate Ag Committee, but now it’s official.

Over the past five years as your U.S. senator, I have secured many victories for Nebraska's agricultural producers. That's why I was chosen to join the Agriculture Committee. From fighting to eliminate the harmful Waters of the United States Rule (WOTUS), which would have stripped our state's control over our water supply, to modifying costly EPA regulations affecting on-farm fuel storage and restoring fairness when it comes to crop insurance, my commitment to rural America has been clear. Additionally, I also helped pass legislation that eliminated a patchwork of state-by-state biotechnology labeling laws, which reduced costs and provided certainty for Nebraska ag producers and food processors.

Roberts and key Senate leaders who make committee assignment decisions see me as a leader who fights for rural America and our ag producers, which caused them to choose me to fill the available spot on the committee.

This coming year will be critical as the 2014 farm bill expires and the committee works to write the next one. Throughout this process, I will continue traveling all across Nebraska, as I’ve done for the past five years, to listen to the thoughts, suggestions and concerns from our state’s many ag producers and rural business leaders. Last year, I was glad to host U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Cherry County for a rancher-focused roundtable discussion. Nebraskans will continue to have their voices heard as the Senate works on our nation's agriculture and nutrition policy.

This is a tough time for farm country. Producers are currently facing numerous challenges that range from weather to depressed commodity prices and tight margins. At this important juncture, my priorities for the next farm bill will include supporting an affordable and viable farm safety net, protecting the livestock and forage disaster programs, and safeguarding crop insurance. In 2015, I pushed to reverse a $3 billion cut to the crop insurance program. I intend to fight hard to protect this program.

Moreover, I will continue to work toward expanding market access opportunities for Nebraska producers and their families. I will use my position in the Senate, and especially now on the Ag Committee, to support trade agreements already in place, and fight for new opportunities like I did when I worked to lift the ban on beef exports to Israel, which provided them with Nebraska beef for the first time in 13 years.

The president’s recent remarks to the American Farm Bureau showed his strong commitment to rural America and hardworking farming and ranching families all over our country. I was happy to hear him highlight important policy initiatives like additional regulatory relief and increased broadband access for agriculture. I believe we can turn these ideas into reality, opening the door to greater prosperity for American agriculture producers.

In my new role on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, I look forward to working together with Roberts and my colleagues on the committee to advance smart policies that farmers and ranchers need to do their job of feeding our hungry world. Nebraska needed to have a seat at the table when it comes to our nation's agricultural policy.

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer can be reached at 202-224-6551.

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