Indiana Ag Policy Summit covers farm bill, conservation, and more

Indiana Corn Growers Association President Scott Smith kicked off the 2023 Indiana Ag Policy Summit

The 2023 Indiana Ag Policy Summit focused on issues affecting the state’s corn and soybean farms.

Farmers and agricultural industry professionals attended the annual event hosted by The Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership and Policy Committee today in Greentown.

Senior Director of Industry Affairs Steve Howell tells Brownfield policy that allows sales of higher blends of ethanol and a biodiesel tax credit are top of mind.

“Biofuels specifically are a state issue that we’re going to pursue. Last year we had a bill to provide incentives for higher blends of ethanol and biodiesel. The biofuels industry in Indiana is extremely important to our farmers. We’ve got the largest fully-integrated soybean processing and biodiesel facility in the United States based in Claypool, Indiana. There are 15 ethanol plants across the state, soon to be 16 with Cloverdale opening up again,” he says. “That’s an extremely important market for our farmers— about 45 to 47% of our corn crop goes through an ethanol plant. It adds value to the local farmers who can sell to those ethanol plants and truck soybeans that Louis Dreyfus facility up in Claypool. Expanding those opportunities with the infrastructure of the processing we already have is extremely important and we see it as an easy way of moving more corn through ethanol plants and more soybeans through biodiesel.”

Other state policy issues he discussed include carbon sequestration as well as the bill that will create an inventory of the farmland that has been lost in Indiana over the last 12 years.

On the federal side, he says the 2023 Farm Bill is a priority for the state’s corn and soybean farmers.  

“The the current farm bill expires at the end of this fiscal year on September 30 so we do need a reauthorization of the farm bill. That happens every five years and that’s the big lift this year. Oftentimes people think maybe we’re saying the same thing (that we have in past farm bill discussions), but we are because it’s so important to have a strong safety net. We’ve got to have the crop insurance product that works given the costs that we have on the farm and what it costs to plant an acre of corn or an acre of soybeans. What we have now is working so we’re working to defend that, he says. “We also need to have conservation programs that are voluntary and incentive based. That message is one that we’re carrying and again it may sound like we’re saying a lot of the same things we did back in 2018, however, given the turnover we’ve seen in Congress over the past few years, there’s nearly 240 members of Congress, both House and Senate who not worked the farm bill. A lot of it is some basic education for those members. But again, what we hear from farmers, overall, is the farm bill works well. We want to keep a lot of the components of the current bill in the next bill.”

He says other federal policy issues include Mexico’s ban on biotech corn and the EPA Endangered Species Act.

Audio: Steve Howell

Be on the lookout for more coverage from the event on Brownfield Ag News.

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