North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad, long a mainstay in North Dakota politics, is preparing to leave the Senate at the end of the year. Conrad’s departure marks the end of a nearly 30-year career and potentially the end of an era in American agriculture.
After a long service in the US Senate, Conrad abruptly decided last year to retire from the Senate at the end of his current term. While some speculated that Conrad’s retirement was motivated by poor poll performance (fellow North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan made a similar decision in 2010 and was replaced with Republican John Hoeven), Conrad insisted that he wanted to focus all of his attention on the budget deficit rather than a reelection campaign.
During the past decade, Conrad helped shape federal farm policy through his service on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Conrad was one of the primary authors of the 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills, helping to add nearly $74 billion to the 2002 bill and helping to expand disaster and crop insurance programs in the 2008 bill.
Conrad was praised by his former and current colleagues. Former Sen. Byron Dorgan said, “Kent’s tenure will be long remembered for his ability to masterfully work the budget process,” while current Sen. John Hoeven stated, “We were able to work together very well. I think he is someone who can work well with both sides of the aisle. We need more senators that are willing to do that.”
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer