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Roberts stepping aside as ranking member on Ag committee

In a statement, Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas says he'll lose his position as ranking Republican member of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

"Sen. Thad Cochran (of Mississippi) is going to assert his seniority on the Ag Committee and will become the ranking member," Roberts' statement said. "Seniority is a well-respected and historic privilege in the U.S. Senate. Senator Cochran has my full support."

Losing the ranking-member status isn't a crippling blow -- Roberts will remain on the committee. But the decision to kick Rep. Tim Huelskamp entirely off the House Ag committee means the Kansas voice on farm policy continues to erode.

That's important because the farm bill remains in limbo. The existing farm law was largely extended as part of the fiscal cliff vote, which means the new Congress will have to take a fresh look at the ag measure that stalled in the 112th Congress.

There are no Kansans on the House Ag committee. Roberts is the only Kansan on the Senate committee.

Roberts says he's running again in 2014.

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