Sen. Pat Roberts will receive the American Farm Bureau Federation Distinguished Service Award at the AFBF’s 101st Annual Convention.
AFBF established the Distinguished Service Award in 1928 to honor individuals who have devoted their careers to serving the national interest of American agriculture.
Sen. Pat Roberts has served Kansas in the U.S. Congress since 1981, first in the House of Representatives then in the U.S. Senate. He is the only member in history to serve as chairman of both the Senate and House Agriculture committees, leading bipartisan coalitions to pass eight farm bills. Roberts has a long record of bipartisanship on ag issues, highlighted by his public commitment to work side-by-side with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to pass the 2018 farm bill.
“The ag committee is like a family. That’s the way it was in the House and it is now, even through very, very tough times," Roberts said. "She [Sen. Stabenow] is a Democrat, I’m a Republican. We don’t vote alike on the floor a lot, but we knew we had to get this bill done. Certainty and predictability – that was the key.”
As a former U.S. Marine, Sen. Roberts chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee for four years, a role which took him to a Soviet-era secret city in 1999. There he reports seeing stockpiles of pathogens, including hoof and mouth disease, an infectious and sometimes fatal disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, being weaponized. The experience motivated him to help secure funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which is slated to open in two years.
Roberts is a mentor to many and strong supporter of agriculture in Kansas and across the country.
“Sen. Roberts’ retirement is going to create a big void for us in agriculture," said Richard Felts, president of the Kansas Farm Bureau. "He’s been there for quite some time, I won’t say an institution, but has a tremendous amount of experience and tenure. And not only that, he has a lot of respect among his peers that really looked up to him, and we’re going to miss that leadership that he has been able to provide.”