Bacon Brings Legislators, Statehouse Staff to Meet With Farmers

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Traditional bacon, candied bacon, Nashville Hot bacon, beef bacon, and more led legislators and their staff to the 3rd floor of the Indiana Statehouse Monday as farmer leaders and staff with the Indiana Corn Growers Association (ICGA) and the Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership and Policy Committee (M&P) discussed hot ag topics at the annual Bacon Bar and Brunch legislative breakfast.

“We use the bacon to entice folks in,” says Steve Howell, Senior Director of Industry Affairs for Indiana Corn and Soy. “But the real value here is to have farmers meeting with their legislators talking about the bills that are important to them and just really just talking through some of the issues surrounding the industry.”

One hot topic discussed at the event was HB1315, which would provide tax credits for the sale of higher ethanol blends, the sale of blended biodiesel or renewable diesel, and the blending of biodiesel or renewable diesel. Howell says other states have similar legislation.

“Indiana kind of lags behind that. We don’t see a lot of support. There is a tremendous market for corn with the 15 ethanol plants and it’s an important market for soybeans with the largest integrated soybean diesel processing facility based right here in Indiana.”

That bill received a hearing last week in the House Ag and Rural Affairs Committee. Since this year is not a budget year for the General Assembly, the bill won’t move forward this year, but Howell says the hearing went well and laid the groundwork to potentially pass the bill next year.

Several legislators told HAT at the event that this is one they look forward to each year. Indiana Senate Republican Jeff Raatz from the 27th District says the bacon got him out of bed early Monday.

“This is a great opportunity for them to come and share the things that are plaguing them, the questions that they have about what’s happening in the Statehouse at this point in time during the session, where’s ag at, are there bills that are for or against, and so they got opportunity to share back and forth. And that’s the right dialogue to have. And you can’t help but love the concept that they bribe us with bacon to get us to have conversation with them.”

Other proposed bills drawing attention from Indiana corn and soybean farmers include:

HB1183 Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land – Authored by State Rep. Kendell Culp (R-Rensselaer), starting on July 1, this bill would restrict who can buy farmland or the mineral rights or water or riparian rights to Indiana agricultural property. This bill would require the state’s attorney general to investigate any sale or lease of agricultural land if the attorney general believes the buyer is in violation of the law. This law is intended to block foreign ownership of Indiana farmland.
HB1417 Agricultural Matters – This bill, presented by State Rep. Beau Baird (R-Greencastle), directs ISDA to conduct an economic impact study based on the findings of the lost farmland report. ISDA must oversee and take all actions necessary for the publication of an updated version of the Indiana Drainage Handbook.
SB105 Updated Indiana Drainage Handbook – Related to HB1417, State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) added a bill also requiring ISDA to oversee and take all actions necessary for the publication of an updated version of the Indiana Drainage Handbook. Authorizes ISDA to select a contractor to draft the updated version of the handbook. The bill requires ISDA to appoint an advisory board to advise the contractor and to review and comment on the structure and the text of drafts of the updated handbook.

Hear more from Steve Howell in the full HAT interview below.

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