Hello, I'm Mark Pearson.
The nation's political scene was thrown into turmoil this week on news of the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. The democrat senator along with his wife and daughter and 5 others perished in a plane crash on their way to the funeral of a friend. His personality was a rare blend of passion and good humor. A champion of rural causes, he was well-liked even by those who opposed his political views.
Wellstone was campaigning for a third term. His death could well alter the balance of power in the U.S. Senate where democrats are currently in control by a single vote. Under Minnesota law the party can replace a candidate on the ballot up to four days before the election. As of Friday, no determination had been made as to who would replace Wellstone on the ticket.
Wellstone's death in the final days of the campaign comes at a time when issues and trends appeared to be tilting toward the democrats.
Fortified by a host of government numbers democrats have been campaigning hard, attempting to paint the opposition as the party of recession.
This week they were pointing to government reports like the index of leading indicators. In September it fell for the fourth straight month. Durable goods orders fell 5.9 percent. Non-defense capital goods orders dropped a whopping 12.6 percent. It would seem recovery is not imminent. The picture is not much different in some parts of Rural America. A Federal Reserve survey of member banks reports the farm economy in some regions is the worst it's been in thirty years. But in other parts of Rural America harvests yields are turning out to be better than expected, and of late markets have been strengthening for some crops.
In the heartland the corn and soy harvests continue to make progress, but behind the average pace. At the start of the week 51 percent of the corn had been harvested, nine points behind normal. Seventy three percent of the soybean harvest has been completed, about three points behind the average pace.
Demand for soy has quietly surged for much of the year. Last week U.S. soybean export sales hit a high for the marketing year on sales of 1.23 million metric tons. Futures markets traded higher on developing doubts about weather in the southern hemisphere. End users this week were actively trying to secure beans, meal and soy oil.