By Todd Kemp, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Treasurer
The Senate Agriculture Committee on March 13 conducted a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Heath Tarbert to serve as the next chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
A Republican who currently serves as assistant secretary of the treasury for international affairs, Tarbert would succeed fellow Republican Chris Giancarlo if confirmed by the full Senate.
During his testimony, Tarbert stressed the CFTC’s special obligation to “…ensur(e) that our derivatives markets are open, transparent, competitive and financially sound, while at the same time free from fraud and manipulation.”
He noted the importance of futures markets to U.S. agriculture, specifically mentioning that, “…grain elevators, mills, distributors, manufacturers, and other producers that make America’s agricultural industry the envy of the world also rely upon and benefit from these markets daily.”
In generally friendly questioning from senators of both parties, Tarbert pledged to learn more about production agriculture and agribusiness by getting out of Washington, D.C., to visit and hear concerns of agricultural stakeholders.
The NGFA has met twice with Tarbert at his request and supports his confirmation. During the hearing, Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., referenced a letter coordinated by the NGFA that garnered signatures from 25 national groups from production agriculture and agribusiness in support of Tarbert.
The committee is expected to approve Tarbert’s nomination soon, at which time action will shift to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. While no confirmation is routine in the current political environment, the Senate’s previous approval of Tarbert for his Treasury position with strong bipartisan support should be a positive indicator of his prospects for confirmation.