Indiana farmers met with legislators Wednesday at the statehouse during the annual Bacon Bar and Brunch legislative breakfast at the Indiana Statehouse. The event is organized by the Indiana Corn Growers Association and the Indiana Soybean Alliance Membership and Policy Committee.
Mike Beard, Clinton County farmer and past president of the Indiana Corn Growers Association board of directors, says they put on the event to attract lawmakers and their staff to come visit with their farmer leaders.
“We’ve had a lot of participation (Wednesday) morning by staff and legislators. It gives us a chance then to, while the legislator is eating bacon and he’s got his mouth full, it gives us a chance to get in their ear. So, we’re filling their stomachs and filling their ear with all that is good about agriculture.”
Indiana House Ag Committee Chair Representative Don Lehe (R-Brookston) says the event is very valuable to him and other legislators. Beginning next week, bills that originated in the Senate will move to the House and vice versa.
“And I’ve already talked to several folks here today about a couple of bills I plan to hear. At this point, I hadn’t read those bills yet. I didn’t know what they were really wanting to do. Well, I already know a lot about what we’re going to be looking at and that’s very helpful.”
Indiana Senate Ag Committee Chair Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) says the bacon event is important for her but is especially important to reach out to other legislators.
“The truth is, in this body, in this big building, there are not a lot of us that have true agricultural interest. So, it’s really good for the ag organizations to come in and have a chance to talk to all legislators, even those that are more urban.”
Beard adds that events like the Bacon Bar & Brunch are successful because of the farmers that step up to the plate and have those conversations with legislators. He says if you don’t want bad policy that could negatively impact your farm, get involved.
“The Indiana Corn Growers Association represents an awful lot of farmers across Indiana, but we are not effective unless we have people that are willing to step to the telephone, write a letter, attend an event, to make the legislator who’s attending, or listening, or reading, make them understand the issue.
More information on joining the Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance can be found here. ICGA also has a number of seats opening on their board of directors.
Potential legislation that would regulate the carbon sequestration industry create opportunities for Hoosier farmers led many of the discussions. The corn and soybean policy groups also advocated for Indiana’s livestock producers and supported bills that would make changes to the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH) and the state seed administrator’s office. Details on those bills are below:
- HB 1249 and SB 265 – Carbon Sequestration Pilot Project: These bills would change the description of the carbon sequestration pilot project that is authorized under current law. They eliminate the requirement that the operator of a carbon sequestration pilot project must be designated by the director of the department of natural resources. The proposals define a “carbon sequestration claim” as a civil action alleging actual or potential infringement of, or damage to real or personal property rights. M&P and ICGA oppose these bills due to concerns about private property rights.
- HB 1209 – Carbon Sequestration Projects: This proposal provides for the mechanism of underground storage of carbon dioxide in Indiana, and it makes additional conforming changes. ICGA and M&P support this bill.
- SB 388 – Foreign Business Ownership of Agricultural Land: Beginning July 1, this bill says a foreign business entity may not acquire farmland located in Indiana, unless the land will be used for non-farming business purposes. The bill prohibits a foreign business entity that owns Indiana farmland from transferring that land to another foreign business entity after June 30. The proposal would require a foreign business entity to report the acquisition, sale or transfer of Indiana farmland to the secretary of state. The bill says that farmland acquired, sold or transferred in violation of law is subject to forfeiture to the state. M&P and ICGA are monitoring this bill.
- SB 85 – Drainage Taskforce: This bill establishes a drainage task force consisting of six members of the Senate, six members of the House of Representatives, and six more individuals. It requires the task force to review the responsibilities of landowners and state and local authorities under current laws relating to the drainage of land, and to determine if the balance between state and local authority on the drainage of farmland favors the state more in Indiana than in neighboring states. The task force to must make recommendations and issue a report by Dec. 1, 2023. ICGA and M&P support the bill.
- HB 1147 and SB 129 – Seed Tests: This bill requires the state seed commissioner to charge fees for testing seed for purity and germination that are in line with standard fees in the seed-testing industry. It repeals some rules for agricultural seed in packages that are not more than one pound. A $25 minimum fee would be required to register pure or mixed cultures of microorganisms and materials with the state chemist. ICGA and M&P support this bill.
- HB 1148 – Veterinary Medicine: This proposal changes the name of the Indiana Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to the Indiana Board of Veterinary Medicine. The bill states that the state veterinarian would serve as the chief administrative officer of the new board and provide technical advice and assistance. The bill establishes the Indiana Center for Animal Policy to facilitate the coordination of regulatory duties of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH). The bill says the state veterinarian is the chief administrative officer of the Center and BOAH. M&P and ICGA support this bill.
Source: Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance M&P