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A Big Step by Indiana Agriculture to Advance Natural Resource Efforts on the Farm

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Indiana is leading the way in efforts to improve soil health and nutrient management. But ask those involved in the movement and they’ll tell you they want more. And now groups around the state are demonstrating just how serious they are at getting more farmers on board. USDA’s Indiana Natural Resources Conservation Service and Indiana Farm Bureau have formed a new non-profit called the Indiana Agriculture Nutrient Alliance (IANA).

Despite the state’s successes, Indiana State Conservationist Jane Hardisty says the alliance was formed because “we were finding out that we are still having a hard time getting some of the farmers into our doors so to speak, to learn more about soil health,” she told HAT. “We realized that our commodity partners, like Farm Bureau and corn and soybean and our livestock, that they of course reach so many more of the farmers than what we can. We’re only reaching about 35 percent of our farmers.”

Organizations in Indiana representing the commodities, conservation, academia, as well as local, state and federal agencies will team up to provide answers for farmers on water quality and more.

“I’m so proud of Farm Bureau and other partners saying let’s all just make a little bit more of an effort and by pooling our resources, our information, our outreach efforts, we really think that we can reach out to so many more farmers and even put Indiana further down the road to showing good example of how our farmers are taking care of our natural resources.”

Financial contributions for IANA will come from partner organizations, and Hardisty says a search is now underway for an executive director.

“We’re getting the structure in place and we’ve already been taking applications, because any undertaking like this, even though we’ve got the best partnership in the world, any big effort, you’ve got to have somebody in charge.”

Hardisty hopes everything is in place in the next couple of months. Then, with all the partners ready to go, she expects good things to result in 2018.

In an address to the Indiana Farm Bureau State Convention in French Lick recently, Hardisty announced the formation of IANA. There she said numerous groups across the state have made great strides to improve soil health. Hardisty highlighted the increased use of cover crops and conservation tillage by farmers. She also recognized organizations in Indiana focused on nutrient management and soil health such as the Indiana Conservation Partnership and the Healthy Rivers Initiative spearheaded by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

“There are a lot of great things going on in Indiana related to soil health but a more coordinated, formal effort was needed,” Hardisty said. “A committee of agricultural executives, the Ag Nutrient Task Force, decided to create a new entity to help lead these efforts.”

The IANA will operate as a standalone nonprofit group led by a board of directors elected from representatives in the partnership. The person selected as executive director will work closely with all the partners to promote active and broad participation. The executive director will be integral in leading the IANA in the development of strategies to capture synergies between partner efforts and to develop communication strategies primarily directed toward farmers and their advisors.

The IANA is made up of the following partners:

  • Indiana USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Indiana Farm Bureau
  • Indiana Soybean Alliance
  • Indiana Corn Marketing Council
  • Indiana Pork Producers
  • Indiana State Poultry Association
  • Indiana Dairy Producers
  • Indiana Beef Cattle Association, Inc.
  • Indiana Agribusiness Council, Inc.
  • American Dairy Association of Indiana
  • Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts
  • The Nature Conservancy in Indiana
  • Purdue University College of Agriculture
  • Indiana State Department of Agriculture

Justin Schneider, INFB’s director of state government relations, applauded the vision of Hardisty and the commitment of the partners to create the IANA. “The partners share in the commitment to the success of the IANA,” said Schneider. “Whether it is a financial commitment, dedication of staff or willingness to find new ways to collaborate, there is a clear recognition that we will achieve more through strengthened and coordinated actions.”

Additional source: Indiana Farm Bureau

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