During August of each year, the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership and Policy Committee (M&P) host a series of Shop Talks around Indiana.
M&P and ICGA have hosted Shop Talks for several years. The term “Shop Talk” is an important description of the meetings. Indiana’s corn and soybean policy organizations offer meetings with an emphasis on farmers talking with state and federal lawmakers – as opposed to those elected officials giving a speech to farmers. Additionally, these meetings are typically in a farm shop or an environment where farmers are more relaxed.
August is an ideal time to have these meetings because Congress is not in session, and members of Congress use this time to go back to their districts and meet with voters. Although Congress is on recess, much work is done back home in the state.
“Shop Talks also give us a chance to showcase modern, commercial-scale agriculture to federal and state legislators,” said ICGA President Scott Smith, a farmer from Windfall, Ind. “These on-farm meetings are a great opportunity to show the scale of how a modern farm operates, the volumes produced, and the technology needed to efficiently produce a crop. Having this up-close and personal view of modern agriculture gives elected officials an important perspective as they debate issues impacting agriculture.”
This year’s Shop Talk schedule includes:
- Aug. 7 in Flat Rock, Ind., at the farm of Jim Douglas
- Aug. 8 in Windfall, Ind., at the farm of Scott Smith
- Aug. 14 in Albion, Ind., at the farm of Eric Strater
- Aug. 25 in Greensburg, Ind., at the farm of Mike Koehne
- Aug. 28 in LaGrange, Ind., at the farm of Carey McKibben
- Aug. 29 in LaCrosse, Ind., at the farm of Denise Scarborough
Each Shop Talk will begin at 8 a.m. local time, and coffee and doughnuts will be served. U.S. Rep. Greg Pence (R-Dist. 6) will speak at the Shop Talk on Aug. 7 at Douglas’ farm, and State Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo) will speak at the Aug. 8 Shop Talk at the Smith Farm. Steve Howell, the Senior Director for Industry Affairs at ICGA, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council (ICMC) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance (ISA), will offer an update on up-to-date farm policy issues at each meeting.
After each Shop Talk meeting, Purdue Extension will offer an optional Pesticide Applicator Recertification Program (PARP) certification course with fees sponsored by ISA and ICMC.
Topping the list of issues to discuss is the reauthorization of the farm bill, which is set to expire later this year. Priorities for M&P and ICGA in the next farm bill include the need to protect crop insurance, allocating more dollars within the farm bill to support Title I programs such as Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC), and increasing funding for the Market Development Program and the Foreign Market Development program.
Biofuels policy is also a top Shop Talk discussion. One of ICGA’s priorities is pushing for higher blends of ethanol in gasoline. Year-round sales of E15 gasoline and passage of the Next Generation Fuels Act would lead to higher blends of ethanol and increased corn grind. The blenders tax credit for biodiesel is a priority of M&P, as well as seeking opportunities for soybean oil in the producers of Sustainable Aviation Fuel.
Another priority issue for both M&P and ICGA is trade policy. Indiana farmers are concerned about the federal government not aggressively seeking new trade opportunities for agriculture and the need to enforce existing trade agreements.
M&P and ICGA would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s Shop Talk series: Corteva Agriscience, Pioneer Hybrids and First Farmers Bank and Trust. For registration information, go online to incornandsoy.org/2023shoptalks. Anyone with questions about this series may contact Emily McNiff at email@example.com.