Stabenow will replace Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who lost her bid for re-election this year. As chairwoman, she will oversee drafting of the next five-year farm bill, which is expected by 2012.
The Michigan senator is the fifth-ranking Democrat on the committee, but the senators who outrank her are all chairmen of other committees. North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad had said he was considering the Agriculture post but announced Friday he will keep his position of chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.
Agriculture is Michigan's second largest industry, and the state leads the nation in production of cherries and blueberries.