Leaders of the U.S. cotton industry reacted to the resignation of Rep. Larry Combest (R-TX) from the U.S. House Tuesday with surprise and words of commendation for his leadership as chairman of the Agriculture Committee.
Combest, elected last week to his 10th term as Texas’ 19th District representative, announced that he will resign effective May 31 but is expected to relinquish his chairmanship in December, paving the way for a new chairman to be seated at the beginning of the new Congress. He has served on the Agriculture Committee his entire career and has chaired the committee since 1999.
"Agriculture has benefited greatly from Rep. Combest’s dedication, commitment and leadership as chairman of the Agriculture Committee," said National Cotton Council Chairman Kenneth B. Hood of Gunnison, MS. "His integrity, leadership skills, depth and breadth of knowledge about agricultural policy in general and cotton industry issues specifically will be evident for years to come.
"Rep. Combest has set a lofty standard, particularly in striking a bipartisan balance that serves all interests of the industry."
Hood said that was never more evident than when Rep. Combest, with the cooperation of Rep. Charles Stenholm, successfully guided new farm legislation through the House, the Conference Committee and to the president’s desk, capping an effort that began in 2000 with a series of nationwide policy input hearings.
American Cotton Producers Chairman Mark Williams of Farwell, TX, who farms in Combest’s district, said, "I believe that Rep. Combest has a unique grasp and understanding of the difficulties facing farmers today. He used that knowledge to develop and deliver effective farm policy that addresses the primary needs of agriculture for the short- and long-term. While developing national agricultural policy, he never failed to put the highest priority on effectively serving the needs of all of agriculture and especially those of Southern agriculture.
"Rep. Combest’s personal commitment to reforming and enhancing risk management programs is another primary example of his dedication to improving the tools available to allow farmers to effectively manage their operations and compete globally. He also successfully expanded agricultural research programs, played an active role in trade policy development seeking to open markets to U.S. agricultural exports and significantly expanded conservation programs in the 2002 farm bill. He has made an enormous difference in the well-being of rural Americans as well as for farmers, ranchers and consumers."
While most noted for his extensive contributions to agricultural policy, Combest also served on the Small Business Committee and chaired the House Intelligence Committee in 1995-96.