Ag News

Southern Ag loses champion as U.S. Senator Thad Cochran resigns

U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, announced March 5 he plans to retire April 1 due to health concerns.

“I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge. I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi and the Senate through the completion of the 2018 appropriations cycle, after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate,” Cochran said in a released statement.

The National Cotton Council (NCC) praised Cochran as being a highly effective legislator and true statesman who consistently supported the U.S. cotton industry and all of agriculture.

“Senator Cochran was instrumental in securing seed cotton’s eligibility for support under the 2014 farm bill,” NCC Chairman Ron Craft said. “His insight on the challenges facing agriculture and his leadership in shepherding important farm policy through the Senate are greatly appreciated by the U.S. cotton industry.”

Cochran chaired the Senate Agriculture Committee in 2003-2004 and is the second-ranking member of the committee behind Committee Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) Chairing the appropriations committee and serving on the agriculture committees gave Cochran large influence on farm and nutrition policy. In addition to supporting cotton, Cochran was also known for his support of rice, peanuts and federal nutrition programs.

Besides Cochran, there are three other Southern senators on the 21-person committee: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John Boozman of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia. Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is expected to appoint an interim senator and schedule a vote for Cochran’s permanent successor as part of the Nov. 6 general election.  According to news reports, possible appointees to serve as interim senator include Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith and Mississippi Sec. of State Delbert Hosemann.