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McConnell ag committee absences highlighted ahead of KFB forum

McConnell ag committee absences highlighted ahead of KFB forum

by Joe Arnold


Posted on August 20, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 20 at 10:34 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Expect Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes to critize Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's attendance record at the Senate Agriculture Committee when the two square off at Wednesday's Kentucky Farm Bureau forum.

The Grimes campaign has released a graphic quoting an article in The Hill which reported that on some of the same days McConnell missed agriculture committee hearings, he still found time for other Senate activities and media appearances

"He’s missed hearings but has still managed to make time for... issues far removed from Kentucky’s farmers," the ad graphic reads, the words posted in front of a cartoon image of an empty chair at a hearing table and McConnell's name on a placard.

"Kentucky farmers deserve better," the graphic reads at the bottom.

The Hill's article cross-checks McConnell's public schedule with his absences at agriculture committee hearings, showing appearances on talk shows, a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference and a meeting between congressional leaders and Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping.

McConnell will likely counter Grimes' criticism of his attendance record by explaining that as the Republican Leader of the Senate, his influence on agriculture policy is greater than most any other senator.

McConnell “uses his clout as Leader to help Kentucky farmers in ways that go well beyond committee Q & A,” spokesman John Ashbrook told The Hill.

McConnell has already explained, for instance, that he used his leadership position to  appoint conferees to Farm Bill negotiations who ensured that McConnell's priorities were represented in the senator's personal absence from the meetings.

A Vermont based non-profit organization dedicated to legislative acceptance of industrial hemp presented McConnell with an award the securing language into the bill that allowed five pilot projects in Kentucky to produce hemp.

“And the year before [that] he used his position to secure a one year extension of farm programs protecting Kentucky families from a huge spike in milk prices and providing certainty for Kentucky farmers ahead of a new planting season," Ashbrook adds in The Hill article. "That same year he also won a permanent reduction of the death tax."

Since the award's inception in 2007, the Kentucky Farm Bureau has consistently nominated McConnell for the natonal Friend of Farm Bureau Award given to members of Congress based on voting record, leadership and accessibility to Farm Bureau members.

McConnell has received the American Farm Bureau’s top award, the Golden Plow, twice in his career, as well as the National Farm Group’s Farm Credit Award.