Getting everyone to agree on something is very difficult to do in politics, but freshman State Representative Kendell Culp was able to pull that off with his first bill introduced in the Indiana House.
House Bill 1557, a bill that would inventory the farmland we’ve lost in Indiana over the past 12 years, passed the House last week with a 97-0 vote. Culp says the bill is a first step in addressing concerns about food security.
“We’ve come through the pandemic, and we’ve seen times where we’ve seen empty shelves in the grocery stores, and we’ve really never seen that before in this country. And so, it has kind of reemerged that food security issue. So, a lot of folks are in tune to this and they’re seeing farmland that’s disappearing or being paved over and it’s a big concern to them.”
Because of those concerns, Culp says a number of people have approached him saying we need a strong farmland preservation program in the state.
“So, as I considered that, I really thought we need the data to see how serious of a problem this is, or if it’s just a perceived problem. As you know, farmers become more efficient and productive every year, really raising more with less, and so maybe we’re already raising more even though we’re losing more land and maybe it’s not a big issue. Before we can have a strong robust program, I think we need that data.”
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture will be tasked with compiling the data. They testified in support of the bill during its committee hearing.
“The State Department of Agriculture, they seem to be really excited about this. It’s a matter of collecting that data and then presenting it. They have until July 1, 2024 to come up with that. So, we would be looking in two years, the next long session, if there will be some sort of follow up legislation it would be at that time.”
Culp has also authored House Bill 1132 that would create a land use task force. It passed out of the House Commerce Committee last week. Hear more about these bills in the full HAT interview with Culp from last week below.