The Senate Agriculture Committee met Thursday to consider Commodity Futures Trading Commission nominations. Timothy Massad has been nominated to serve as CFTC Chairman. J. Christopher Giancarlo and Sharon Bowen are nominated to serve as commissioners. Two Senators expressed concern with the lack of experience the nominees have in the agriculture sector. Georgia Senator Saxby Chambliss noted that the CFTC’s Agricultural Advisory Committee has met once since 2011. He went on to ask if anyone would want to serve as chair of the committee – which was created in 1985 to advise the CFTC on issues involving the trading of agricultural commodity futures and options and facilitate communications between the CFTC, the agricultural community and ag-related organizations. Massad assured the Senate Ag members that he would make sure the committee is chaired and said it would meet more regularly. Giancarlo added that he would be honored to serve as chair. North Dakota’s John Hoeven also pressed the nominees on their lack of ag experience – stating they need to get out in the field. Giancarlo said he recognizes the importance of the futures markets to the business of agriculture and said it’s essential that U.S. futures and swaps continue to serve the needs of all involved in agriculture.
Several agricultural organizations had asked President Obama to ensure at least one of his nominees for the CFTC had a background in agricultural commodity futures markets. The groups wrote that the agricultural futures markets remain as integral to their businesses now as they were before the financial innovation that led to today’s derivatives markets. They pointed out that there have always been commissioners that intricately understood agricultural futures markets – as well as the underlying physical markets themselves – throughout the agency’s existence.
For her part – Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow told the nominees they will have the responsibility of making sure the futures, swaps and options markets are safe for trading and free of fraud and manipulation. She said they will have an obligation to make sure we never see another MF Global or Peregrine Financial shatter faith in the markets or the ability of regulators to oversee those markets. Each nominee vowed to protect the integrity of financial markets and said they would work to combat excessive speculation.Share