The state Supreme Court's decision there to allow hand recounts of ballots in three counties not only forestalled the selection of the next president, but chilled the financial markets, as well. Coupled with profit warnings and questions about the economy, markets at home and overseas tumbled. In addition, the U.S. trade deficit ballooned to record levels in September as oil imports soared and exports of everything from soybeans to computer parts fell.
The trade deficit is worth noting because lawmakers are fond of pushing exports as a way of improving farm incomes. Just how that gets accomplished will be the task facing some familiar faces in Congress.
On the House side the composition of the 50 member agriculture committee is also remarkably stable. Texans Larry Combest and Charles Steinholm return and are likely to remain committee chair and ranking minority members, respectively. Both have been mentioned as possible agriculture secretaries in the next administration.
One House committee member who may not be returning is Minnesota Representative David Minge. Minge has been an active co-sponsor of legislation to strengthen anti-trust laws and government oversight of potential monopolies, notably in agriculture. Minge was apparently defeated by fewer than 150 votes in a five-way race that garnered some 294-thousand votes. It is expected he will seek a recount.