With gasoline prices nearing $4 per gallon, on Wednesday, both President Obama and the Senate Agriculture Committee addressed rising fuel costs and how best to shape U.S. energy policy.

For more, see Obama and energy.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee (who helmed a hearing titled“Evaluating High Gas Prices and How New Rules and Innovative Farming Can Help”) highlighted reports claiming “as many as 600,000 jobs could be at risk because of the recent spikes in gas prices. … High prices are squeezing farmers and squeezing middle-class families who live on tight budgets. … When businesses pay more for fuel, they’re unable to hire and retain employees – that’s a dangerous place to be in a fragile national economy.”

Certainly, continued Stabenow, “supply and demand plays a significant role (in the higher prices). But we also know it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. … We need a real American energy policy and agriculture has a very important leadership role to play.”

Pointing to Obama’s energy-related speech, Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts, ranking member, expected the president to “follow up on what he said earlier this month while speaking in Brazil at a business summit. He explained how the United States is eager to help expand the Brazilian offshore oil development.”

Roberts – claiming his words weren’t “pejorative or partisan” but “just fact” -- described Obama’s approach as “rather a paradox of enormous irony that, with an estimated 86 billion barrels of oil reserves within the United States, the president would be offering up technology and support for competitors abroad. All the while, we have real problems with production here at home.”