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Agriculture panel sends USDA general counsel nomination to full Senate

Stabenow says she hopes for unanimous consent confirmation

Stabenow said she hopes the Senate will speed Hipp through confirmation by unanimous consent.
Stabenow said she hopes the Senate will speed Hipp through confirmation by unanimous consent. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday sent the nomination of Janie Simms Hipp to the full Senate by voice vote and with bipartisan praise.

“She has a long history of working on agricultural legal issues and a breadth of experience that will be very valuable. I strongly support her nomination,” Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., said as she convened the committee in a room off the Senate floor.

“I agree totally,” added ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark.

Stabenow said she hoped the Senate would confirm Hipp by unanimous consent as it did with Jewel H. Bronaugh’s confirmation for deputy Agriculture secretary in May.

Hipp, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, would be the first Native American woman to become general counsel for the Agriculture Department if confirmed by the Senate.

During her May 27 confirmation hearing, Hipp struck a chord with members of both parties when she said that she, like many lawmakers, was getting calls about the price spread between what cattle producers receive when they sell their animals for slaughter and the price meatpacking operations receive for the beef they sell to wholesalers and retailers.

Hipp said it is an extremely technical area and requires economic analysis, but said as general counsel she would make the market issues a priority. She said she would work with the Justice Department, which began a review in 2020 of meatpacker practices, and USDA agencies that oversee market activities.   

As general counsel, Hipp would oversee the USDA’s Washington headquarters and 12 field offices.

She would bring 35 years of domestic and international legal experience with a specialty in agricultural and food law to the post. Hipp is currently president and CEO of the Native American Agriculture Fund, a philanthropic institute that distributes settlement money from a discrimination lawsuit known as Keepseagle by Native Americans against the USDA.

Hipp worked at the Agriculture Department as director of the Office of Tribal Relations during the Obama administration and at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture as the national program leader for farm financial management, risk management education, trade adjustment assistance and the beginning farmer and rancher development program. She also has worked in academia, establishing the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas in 2013.

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