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Politics

Farmer From Frog Jump Bails On Ag

June 10, 2011

Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn., was one of the media's favorite subjects for profiling in the run-up to the 2010 elections. The Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others, spotlighted the man they dubbed the "Farmer from Frog Jump" and his stewardship of a 2,500-acre farm that's been in his family for seven generations.

But in Washington, Fincher has a decidedly different priority. Last month, Fincher won a coveted appointment to the House Financial Services Committee -- a move that forced him to give up his spot on the Agriculture Committee.

"I am honored to join such a distinguished and prominent committee in the House of Representatives. During these times of economic uncertainty, the House Financial Services Committee will play an important role in creating jobs and fostering an environment that allows businesses to grow," Fincher said in a press release announcing the move. "I am confident that my real world business experience will bring a strong frame-of-reference to the Committee and assist in developing strong public policy to turn our economy around."

Fincher will no doubt reap the other great benefit of the Financial Services Committee: It's a lot more lucrative to serve on a panel that interests banking lobbyists than on a panel that handles agriculture policy. Fincher was one of the better-funded first-time candidates in 2010.

But with a farm bill coming up next year, what would Fincher's rural constituents -- who make up 53 percent of his district -- think about his move?

Fincher spokeswoman Sara Sendek tells us: "Financial Services is a tremendous opportunity to allow agriculture interests to be addressed. Access to capital, lending and ability to hedge risk are the cornerstones for agriculture success. Congressman Fincher's background running his family farm brings forth a perspective that has not been heard on the Committee, especially as Congress is revisiting Dodd-Frank, which would restrict capital once fully implemented."

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