The decision of Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to resign from his seat next year means farmers will lose a strong supporter on Capitol Hill, observers say. Harkin served twice as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry between 2001 and 2009, and he has had a hand in shaping farm bills and encouraging biofuel production. "He really took the bull by the horns and said, 'Hey, let's not just be satisfied with what we got. We've got to figure out how to bridge some of these gaps to the next generation,' " said Monte Shaw, executive director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

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