Congratulations are in order to Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and John Thune (R-S.D.), who were honored with the American Agri-Women (AAW) 2013 Champion of Agriculture award in Washington, D.C., this week.
AAW says it is honoring Collins for her "record of integrity, unsurpassed work ethic, and a steadfast commitment to the people of Maine … in addition to being a champion for women, she is a leader on agriculture issues."
Collins is a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee, where she led a successful effort to prevent USDA from limiting certain healthy vegetables such as the white potato, in the National School Lunch program and eliminating them outright from the school breakfast program. She is also recognized for her efforts to maintain areas such as integrated pest management, research of new potato varieties – an important Main agricultural crop – and cooperative Extension.
Most recently, Collins led an effort to include a provision in the farm bill that would require an examination of dairy price structure in the U.S. This was strongly backed by her constituent Maine dairy farmers and others. She is an advocate for competitive research program that focus on improving crop management practices and IPM practices for both native and invasive pests that would minimize pesticide use.
AAW recognizes Thune as a "strong advocate for issues that are vital to American food security and for sustaining our farming communities." Thune has led actions that target a sensible school lunch program, property right protection transparent spending policies and the repeal of the death tax.
"Senator Thune has provided leadership and direction for agriculture in Washington, D.C.," says AASW president Karen Yost. "Because there are so few in Washington who have a firsthand knowledge of the industry that they regulate, it is imperative that those who know and understand the rural community be active evangelists for our lifestyle. Senator Thune has made a courageous effort to lead positive conversations for families in agriculture."
Past winners of the Champion of Agriculture award have included Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), Sen. James Inhoffe (R-Okla.), Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).