Word: Saxby Chambliss is not a free-range chicken

Chambliss wants new administration's agriculture department to be mindful of his key constituents — massive farms that dominate the industry.

Last Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss expressed concern over Agriculture Deputy Secretary-nominee Kathleen Merrigan’s controversial past — as a proponent of organic farming. Since 1998, Chambliss’ campaigns have received more than $2.1 million from agriculture-related industries whose practices are not as environmentally friendly.

“I do have some concerns that in promoting your passion for organic and sustainable agriculture that you tear down other types of agriculture and those with another point of view. … Farmers and ranchers are the biggest environmentalists we have in America because they make their living off the land.”

Chambliss, speaking to Merrigan during her confirmation hearing.

“These farmers and ranchers who represent the vast majority of agricultural production deserve a USDA that will fairly represent them and not put forward false choices.”

A March 19 letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, signed by Chambliss.

“Senator Chambliss has a stellar record when it comes to supporting American agriculture.”

A May 10, 2007 press release by the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national trade organization that awarded Chambliss its “Golden Plow” award.