INFB discusses policy priorities midway through the legislative session

The Indiana legislative session has reached the halfway point and Indiana Farm Bureau is monitoring progress on its policy priorities.

President Randy Kron says legislation on a carbon sequestration pilot project has been introduced again this year.

“It allows a company over in Vigo County to use your “pore space” without owner consent or a contract. Last year we passed House Bill 1209 which acknowledged that the surface owner owns the pore space and the companies would have to get at least 70 percent of landowners of an underground space they’re going to inject C02 to agree. This bill gives (the company) an exception. We’ve been fighting hard to protect private property rights. At Indiana Farm Bureau one of our cornerstones is private property rights. It only impacts those in Vigo and Vermillion countries, but if they get an exception, who else comes along and asks for an exemption in a year or two. It’s very important legislation and could have longterm ramifications on pore space.”

Senate Bill 451 says the pilot project will construct, operate, or use no more than two carbon dioxide pipelines and will maintain operations in Vigo and Vermillion counties.

He says INFB is also monitoring residential tax incentives that could potentially impact the agriculture industry.

“With adjusting for inflation, home values have gone up a lot so there is a push from the residential side to get some more tax breaks on property tax. We’re carefully watching those because it’s kind of like a balloon. If you push in one place it pops out somewhere else,” he says. “We’re concerned if you give residential tax breaks it will shift to farmland and then also personal property, which is all of our equipment. There are a lot of things going on there. There are several bills and discussion and we’re just trying to make sure there’s not a shift to those of us in agriculture.”

Rural viability, or finding ways to help rural communities prosper, is another priority.

“The governor’s task force came out with some proposals on how to improve healthcare across the state and we’re concerned about the rural viability piece,” he says. “All of us that live in rural communities know that a lot of our family doctors have retired and it’s hard to get family doctors to come back into rural areas (resulting in people) having to drive a long way (to receive medical care). It’s a priority to have good access to medical care or that first provider. So, we’re working on some of those issues and what the governor’s priories are to try to make sure we can ramp up the medical care or healthcare in our rural communities.”

The state budget is also top of mind as Indiana lawmakers will write the two-year budget during this session.  

“From a budget standpoint we’re looking at some extra money from Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana State Fair, and Purdue Extension. So, we’ll try to make sure we can get our priorities through and make sure agriculture gets its share of the funding and some increases,” he says.

Kron says Indiana Farm Bureau members, the grassroots of the organization, advocate for priorities during the legislative session.

“We’ve had a lot of counties and individuals show up during the legislative session. Our strength and clout at the Indiana Statehouse comes from our member engagement. It’s texts and emails but it’s also showing up to the statehouse and talking about some of these issues and what’s important face-to-face with legislators,” he says. “I’m really proud of our members and each year they surprise me and do a great job. There’s no doubt they influence a lot of legislation going on there by their relationships with their legislators. I’m proud of what they do and it’s a key part of what and who the Indiana Farm Bureau is.”

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Audio: Randy Kron

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