Following the naming of Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee on Wednesday, a wide swath of the U.S. agricultural sector weighed in.

“Sen. Lincoln cares deeply about rural America and has worked diligently on behalf of production agriculture, nutrition programs and conservation initiatives,” said Jay Hardwick, a Louisiana cotton producer and chairman of the National Cotton Council (NCC). “She will be an outstanding leader of the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

Larry McClendon, an east Arkansas cotton producer/ginner and former NCC chairman, said, “I am proud of my senator. No senator has worked harder or cares more about production agriculture, nutrition and conservation than Sen. Lincoln. She’s doing two things in Congress that not a lot of people are doing. She is willing to cross the aisle to make sure that people can get on board with her agenda. And, second, when something is important to her like agriculture … she has the backbone to say what’s right.”

Roger Johnson, National Farmers Union president, said Lincoln “has been a steadfast advocate for America’s family farmers, ranchers and rural communities. While we face many challenges, I am confident she will continue her efforts to preserve and protect the interests of rural America.”

The American Farm Bureau Federation, which presented Lincoln with its Golden Plow Award in 2008, said Lincoln “has been a long-time friend of Farm Bureau … and we know she will continue to champion the interests of Farm Bureau families in her new assignment. …We know she will continue to be a strong voice for our industry and will continue as a consistent leader on key Farm Bureau issues such as those that relate to farm policy, the environment and estate tax reform.”

Sen. Lincoln’s “passion and support for American agriculture make her an excellent choice to chair the Senate Agriculture Committee,” said Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. “She grew up on a farm and knows first-hand how much hard work and dedication it requires. I look forward to working with her on the issues that matter to agriculture and rural America.”

“The National Sorghum Producers has had a positive working relationship with Sen. Lincoln and her staff during past agriculture policy debates,” said Toby Bostwick, chairman of the National Sorghum Producers board. “Although much of U.S. sorghum production is in Plains states, we have found Sen. Lincoln to be extremely responsive and attentive to the needs of sorghum producers nationwide.”

A statement from the American Sugar Alliance said Lincoln “has proven time and time again that she is a champion for production agriculture, and we are thrilled that she was chosen to lead the Senate Agriculture Committee. Hailing from Arkansas, Lincoln knows the importance of agriculture to the country’s economy and understands how vital it is for America to maintain a safe, affordable, and abundant supply of homegrown food and fiber. While sugar is not produced in her state, the senator has been a strong supporter of sugar policy, and we look forward to working closely with her for years to come.”

“For the past 17 years, Sen. Lincoln has championed the cause of America’s hard- working dairy farmers,” said Jerry Kozak, president and CEO on the National Milk Producers Federation. “First as a member of the House Agriculture Committee and then through her service on the Senate Agriculture Committee, Sen. Lincoln has carried with her the same kind of firm commitment and common sense to achieving sound federal farm policy that she learned growing up on the family farm near Helena, Ark. The National Milk Producers Federation joins dairy farmers from across the country in applauding Sen. Lincoln’s selection as the new chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.”

As expected, Arkansans are especially pleased with Lincoln’s chairmanship.

“We believe this will be good, not only for Arkansas agriculture, but for all of U.S. agriculture,” said Randy Veach, president of the Arkansas Farm Bureau. “The senator’s interest in the well being of U.S. farm families is deep and sincere.

“Agriculture is near to her heart, and she takes great pride in representing Arkansas’ farmers and ranchers. … She is a true friend of agriculture. Sen. Lincoln has, time and again, demonstrated her dedication to agriculture and the rural way of life. She has worked tirelessly to educate other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, on the importance of the U.S. having sound farm policy and the benefits that our farm programs provide the citizens of this great country.”

Lincoln’s ascendency “comes at a time when strong leadership is needed to champion the safety, security and continued abundance of our nation’s food supply,” said Milo Shult, vice president for Agriculture, in the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. “Sen. Lincoln has always been a champion for agriculture. She recognizes the importance of supporting the mission of Land Grant institutions as they carry new technologies from discovery to application. In Arkansas, her aggressive support for the University Of Arkansas Division Of Agriculture has helped keep agriculture as the backbone of our economy.”

Abraham Carpenter Jr., owner and operator of Carpenter Produce of Grady, Ark., and the winner of the 2005 National Lloyd Wright Black Small Farmers Award said, “This is wonderful news for agriculture, in general, but especially for specialty crop farmers. Sen. Lincoln understands agriculture, literally from the grass roots up. She understands the issues and the programs designed to assist production. Our industry will benefit from her sound leadership.”

“Sen. Lincoln will be an excellent chairman of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee,” said Bill Reed, CEO of Riceland Foods. ”She knows and understands the American food industry from the field to the table. Growing up in a farm family, she has experienced the unpredictable challenges of farm life. She knows that farmers were our first environmentalists — taking care of the soil, water resources and wildlife. Farmers are focused on their productivity, but they also want to pass their farming operations on to the next generation in better condition than when they started farming.

“Sen. Lincoln understands rural communities which include farmers who produce food and fiber, but also the businesses that provide agricultural inputs, retail shops, grocery stores, and service industries. She is well respected by her Senate colleagues and will handle the chairmanship duties with fairness and in a business-like manner. She has the ability to listen to different perspectives and work toward solutions.”

“Arkansas cattlemen are extremely pleased that Sen. Lincoln has been named to chair the Senate Agriculture committee,” said Tommy Lalman, president of the Arkansas Cattlemen’s Association. “Sen. Lincoln has proven herself to be a friend and leader on issues that relate to cattlemen since being elected to represent us in the Senate. Time and again, Sen. Lincoln has stepped forward and shown leadership on issues that matter most to Arkansas’ 27,000 cattlemen. Today, Arkansans are proud and Americas farmers, ranchers and consumers can rest assured that we have a very steady hand to guide us into the future.”

Lincoln has been “a champion of a strong rural economy as key to our nation’s prosperity," said Ted Glaub, American Soybean Association board member and soybean producer from Jonesboro, Ark. "ASA and soybean producers have worked very closely with Sen. Lincoln on farm program and trade issues, biodiesel legislation, conservation programs, food aid, and a host of other priorities important to Arkansas and American soybean farmers. She really cares about the issues facing farmers, and has been an effective and tireless advocate on our behalf.

“Sen. Lincoln is sometimes referred to as the ‘Energizer Bunny’ because she works so hard on issues of importance to rural America and our state. She will be an effective Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her.”

Lincoln “has a long history of supporting American farm families and we believe that this is excellent news not just for the rice industry, but all agricultural producers and rural America,” said Betsy Ward, USA Rice Federation president and CEO. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Senator in her new leadership capacity.”

“The National Sorghum Producers has had a positive working relationship with Sen. Lincoln and her staff during past agriculture policy debates,” said Toby Bostwick, NSP chairman of the board. “Although much of U.S. sorghum production is in the Plains states, we have found Senator Lincoln to be extremely responsive and attentive to the needs of sorghum producers nationwide. Her farm background and her commitment to agriculture are exciting. We know she will continue the collaboration with rural America that we have come to expect from the committee.”