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Elections 2018: Democrats Win the House, Republicans Pad Majority in Senate

Nov 08, 2018

For many months, candidates have been pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and stumping for votes to have the honor of representing their constituents in Congress. Everyone, from political pundits to the President of the United States and your neighbors, has been making predictions about what was going to happen in the midterm elections, and now the results are in.

Democrats have won enough seats to take control of the House of Representatives, and the Republicans have increased their majority in the Senate. “However, it’s still not clear what the majorities will actually look like,” said Donald Grady, IDFA manager of legislative affairs.

As of yesterday, Democrats picked up 28 seats in the House, including seats in Iowa, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Other races remain too close to call. In the Senate, Republicans picked up seats in Indiana, Missouri and North Dakota while Democrats captured a seat in Nevada.

There are three races still yet to be called.

The outcome of specific races and ballot initiatives could affect policy decisions important to dairy companies.

“IDFA congratulates the newly elected and re-elected members of the 116th Congress,” said Dave Carlin, senior vice president of legislative affairs and economic policy. “We look forward to working with them on issues important to the dairy industry.” 

IDFA has analyzed the results for members.

House Ways and Means Committee

Nine Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee will not return to their positions next year, after retiring, seeking other offices or losing their midterm races.

This is a significant turnover that could affect the outcome of trade issues important to dairy. The committee will be the first in Congress to review a signed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“While we expect the USMCA agreement to be signed by the end of November, it’s very unlikely that it will be considered by Congress before the end of the year,” said Carlin. “At IDFA, our current focus is on resolving the issue of retaliatory tariffs that are blocking any gains we might realize from the new agreement."

New members of the committee will also play a role in shaping future trade deals. The administration is aiming now to start bilateral trade talks with the European Union, Japan and the United Kingdom.

The new committee members will be chosen early next year. IDFA expects Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., to become the new committee chairman.

Agriculture Committees

Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., is poised to retake the gavel as chair of the House Agriculture Committee for a second time, having fought off a strong Republican contender to win his 15th term in Congress. Current House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, R-Texas, also cruised to victory for his eighth term. IDFA expects that he will become ranking member of the committee.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee, won a close re-election for her fourth term. Chairman Pat Roberts, R-Kan., will continue to chair the committee in the new Congress.

Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., is the presumptive chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriation Subcommittee.

Dairy State Outcomes

As for some of the races in major dairy states, Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., all won re-election. Republican Russ Fulcher became a new representative from Idaho, and Reps. David Valadao R-Calif., and Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the lone dairy farmers in Congress, both won their races.

In other states, Democrats outperformed Republicans in gubernatorial races, picking up the keys to seven governor’s mansions in Connecticut, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, New Mexico, and Nevada, while Republicans regained the governor’s office in Alaska and held on to Florida. The race for governor in Georgia still too close to call.

Ag Ballot Initiatives

Washington state passed a measure that will prevent local governments from imposing new taxes on certain raw and processed grocery items, including dairy products. Oregon rejected a similar ballot measure.

Very few other initiatives on ballots across America involved agricultural issues. A significant initiative for the overall agriculture industry was passed in California.

Californians overwhelming voted in favor of Proposition 12, which establishes new minimum-space requirements for the confinement of pigs, calves and egg-laying hens. It also prevents the sale of meat and egg products not produced in a manner that conforms to the state standard within California. This ballot measure builds upon a similar California state initiative passed in 2008, which has faced legal challenges from several other states.

“There remains much to accomplish in the 115th Congress, especially the completion of the farm bill,” Carlin added, “IDFA will continue working to advance our priorities for our members and the greater dairy industry between now and the end of the current Congress.”

For more information on Tuesday’s election results, contact Carlin at, Tony Eberhard, IDFA vice president of legislative affairs at, or Donald Grady, IDFA manager of legislative affairs at

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