Senate Agriculture Committee Holds Hearing on Nominees Smith, Vaden

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, today held a hearing to consider the nominations of Glen R. Smith, of Iowa, to be a Member of the Farm Credit Administration Board; and Stephen Alexander Vaden, of Tennessee, to be General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture.

Click here to watch the hearing.

Per Committee Rules, a Committee vote on the nominations must occur in a separate business meeting of the Committee.

Senate Agriculture Committee member John Boozman, R-Ark., presided over the hearing while Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is out due to a routine outpatient procedure.

Below is the opening statement as prepared for delivery:

I call this hearing of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to order.

Chairman Roberts had a routine outpatient procedure. And, I’m chairing and offering this statement in his stead today. He will return to the Senate on Monday.

We are here today to review the nominations of the individuals before us today— Glen Smith to be a Board Member of the Farm Credit Administration, and Stephen Vaden for the position of General Counsel of the Department of Agriculture. 

For the last few months, this Committee has been reviewing and approving nominations for the agencies under its jurisdiction in order to help provide them with political leadership. It is crucial to have decision-makers tending to the important mission areas at the Department of Agriculture, the CFTC, and the Farm Credit Administration. 

Today, we have an opportunity to review the nominations of two distinguished individuals – one to head USDA’s Office of the General Counsel, and the other to serve on the Farm Credit Administration Board, which is tasked with ensuring the safety and soundness of financial institutions comprising the Farm Credit System.

Legal and financial issues are not only touching our stakeholders every day, but the people who benefit from the hard work of our farmers and ranchers – the consumers.

We’ve talked about the challenging times farmers, ranchers, and their families are facing in rural America. Those challenges come not only from what Mother Nature throws at them, but also the regulations, rules, and costly burdens placed upon the agriculture and forestry sectors, including numerous, and sometimes frivolous lawsuits.

The FCA board will also be faced with potential decisions regarding regulatory tools meant to enable the lending system to responsibly support producers during times such as these. 

During these uncertain times, we need these nominees to prioritize farmers and ranchers, as they review legal questions, or the ins and outs of how our farm credit system is functioning.  

We have two very qualified nominees before us today, and I am happy the Committee has the opportunity to examine their credentials and experience as we endeavor to get them working in their new roles as soon as possible. 

Our first witness today is Mr. Glen Smith who was nominated to serve as a Member of the Farm Credit Administration. As noted, Mr. Smith is a native of Atlantic, Iowa, and graduate of Iowa State University. He is the president and co-owner of Smith Land Service, a company which specializes in farm management, land appraisal and farmland brokerage services.

Mr. Smith also owns and serves as president of Smith Generation Farms, Inc., a family farm operation that encompasses about 2,000 acres in western Iowa.

Our next witness, Mr. Stephen Vaden, is the President’s nominee to serve as the Department of Agriculture’s General Counsel, has a B.A. from Vanderbilt University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.

He served as a law clerk for Julia Smith Gibbons of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and for Samuel H. Mays Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee.

Prior to his experience at USDA he practiced law at the law firms of Patton Boggs and at Jones Day, where he gained significant experience in government regulations law, litigation, administrative law, and appellate work. He is licensed to practice law in Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

Stephen has been serving the Office of General Counsel in various acting capacities for the last few months.

It is the Chairman’s hope that the Committee consider and approve your nominations as quickly as possible so we can send them to the full Senate for consideration.

I look forward to your testimony, and I now turn to my colleague, Senator Stabenow, for her opening remarks.   


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