December 6, 2013
MARK YOUR CALENDARS The 2014 legislative session will begin on Jan. 6. Indiana Farm Bureau’s legislative kickoff is on Jan. 8. The State of the State address will be delivered on Jan. 14. The State of the Judiciary address is scheduled for Jan. 15. The General Assembly will observe the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20; no session or committees will be scheduled for that date.
MCKINNEY NEW ISDA DIRECTOR Lieutenant Gov. and Secretary of Agriculture Sue Ellspermann introduced Ted McKinney as the new director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. He was appointed by Gov. Mike Pence effective Jan. 7, 2014. “Ted McKinney is a well-respected industry leader with decades of experience in Hoosier agriculture,” said Gov. Pence. “As Indiana strives to grow and be innovative in agriculture, I am confident that Ted’s background, knowledge and passion for the industry will increase Indiana’s competitiveness and serve Hoosiers well.” Ted McKinney grew up on a family farm in Tipton County, where he has continuing interests. After graduating with a degree in agricultural economics from Purdue University where he was named “outstanding male graduate,” he began a successful career with Elanco Products Company, DowElanco and Dow AgroSciences. Most recently he was Director of global corporate affairs for Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company.
“Indiana Farm Bureau is thrilled with the announcement Wednesday that Ted McKinney will be next Director of ISDA,” said IFB President Don Villwock. “Ted has a long history of serving Indiana agriculture. I have worked with him on many projects and he is a true leader. It was apparent that he has the interests of Indiana farmers and agribusiness at heart.”
INDIANA SENATE SEATS IN PLAY Several Indiana senators have announced that they will not seek re-election. Sen. Lindel Hume (D-Princeton; District 48), Sen. Johnny Nugent (R-Lawrenceburg; District 43), Sen. Allen Paul (R-Richmond; District 27), and Sen. Thomas Wyss (R-Fort Wayne; District 15) will not run in 2014. County Farm Bureau members are encouraged to engage candidates as they are surfaced to ensure that agriculture’s interests are represented.
OTHER STATE NEWS
GOVERNOR PENCE ANNOUNCES ROADMAP 2014 On Thursday, Gov. Pence announced his legislative agenda in an address to attendees of the annual “Legislative Conference.” While the governor will be providing details about his goals in the coming weeks, his plan includes fixing the soil productivity factor issue, phasing out the business personal property tax, streamlining permitting processes and developing a state water plan. Said Katrina Hall, IFB’s director of state government relations, who attended the event, “We are very appreciative of the support of the administration by including multiple IFB priorities.”
His six broad policy areas are:
- Increasing private sector employment.
- Attracting new investment in Indiana with emphasis on manufacturing, agriculture, life sciences and logistics.
- Improving the math and reading skills of elementary students.
- Increasing graduation rates.
- Improving the quality of the Hoosier workforce.
- Improving the health, safety and well-being of Hoosier families, especially children.
SOIL PRODUCTIVITY FACTOR INPUT SOUGHT FROM MEMBERS On Nov. 13, the Department of Local Government Finance and Purdue presented revised soil productivity factors to the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy. The results of the study show more variation than was originally predicted. Those findings are being reviewed by Purdue. Review by farmers across the state is definitely in order.
Farmer members are asked to review soil type data for the counties in which they farm to look for trends in the changes to predicted yields and resultant soil productivity rankings/ratings. Insight about specific soil types would be very helpful. To review your soils and comment, simply click on the rotating soil productivity rating image at infarmbureau.org. Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PURDUE WORKSHOP SERIES ON LEGAL, TAX AND ESTATE ISSUES Purdue Extension will offer a farm law and taxes workshop at five Indiana locations in December to help individuals, farmers, landowners and family business operators understand legal and tax issues, and estate and business transfers. Gerry Harrison, Purdue Extension farm management and agricultural law specialist, will discuss a series of topics, including the drainage law, right-to-farm law, real estate transfer taxes, land trusts and conservation easements. See more information about each workshop session.
All workshop sessions will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Eastern time. Dates, locations, registration deadlines and contact information are as follows:
- Dec. 9 – Jackson County Community Foundation Building, 107 Community Dr., Seymour.
Register by Dec. 6 to the Purdue Extension Jackson County office at 812-358-6101.
- Dec. 10 – Johnson County Fairgrounds, 484 North Morton St., Franklin.
Register by Dec. 9 to the Purdue Extension Johnson County office at 317-736-3724.
- Dec. 11 – Purdue Extension Allen County office, 401 Crescent Ave., Fort Wayne.
Register to the office by Dec. 9 at 260-481-6826.
- Dec. 12 – Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, 17746 County Road 34, Goshen.
Register by Dec. 6 to the Purdue Extension Elkhart County office at 574-533-0554.
- Dec. 13 – Grant County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1403 E. State Route 18, Marion.
Register by Dec. 6 to the Purdue Extension Grant County office at 765-651-2413.
Registration is $30 per person and $20 for a registered individual's spouse. It includes a continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and workshop materials. Continuing education credits are available for Indiana accountants and lawyers. The workshop is $75 for those who want to earn continuing professional education and an additional $20 for an individual's second certification. Checks should be made payable to the Purdue CES Ed Fund. For more information, contact Harrison at email@example.com or call the toll-free number, 888-398-4636, ext. 44216.
SAVE THE DATE: INDIANA HORTICULTURAL CONGRESS – JAN. 21-23, 2014 The three-day congress and trade show will once again be held at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, 2544 Executive Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46241.
The Indiana Horticultural Congress is an educational meeting designed to meet the needs of fruit, vegetable, wine, organics, and specialty crop growers and marketers in Indiana and surrounding states. All interested individuals are invited to attend. “Agritourism is all about bringing the families to the farm for enjoyment, education and the farm experience, but how do we know what the visitor wants. And once we understand that (if we can) how do we serve that need in a way that provides satisfaction to the extent not only that they return but that they will favorably share the experience with their friends, family and neighbors?” – Roy Ballard
SAVE THE DATE: CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT SEMINAR Each year, Indiana Farm Bureau sponsors a campaign seminar (or “school”) as part of our continuing efforts to encourage concerned citizens to become actively involved in government at all levels. This seminar has been praised as a practical, hands-on workshop that focuses on the structure and organization required for a successful political campaign. Particular emphasis is placed on defining the respective roles of the candidate, the candidate’s spouse and the campaign manager.
We have enjoyed a very high success rate for attendees and currently, well over half of Indiana’s counties have at least one graduate of our school holding public office. This school is priced economically to ensure that it is affordable to candidates for all levels of public office and with even the most limited campaign treasuries. The next school will be held Feb. 3-4, 2014, in Assembly Halls A and B at the IFB home office. See the Campaign Management Seminar brochure to review more details.
EPA COMMENT PERIOD ON PROPOSED RFS CHANGES NOW OPEN The EPA published its revised 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard requirements in the Federal Register last Friday, kicking off the official 60-day public comment period. The published rule can be found in its entirety by clicking here.
The EPA proposal would cut nearly 3 billion gallons of biofuel that was originally mandated to be blended into the fuel supply. The proposed rule calls for a total of 15.21 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended into the motor fuel supply in 2014, 16 percent lower than the 18.15 billion gallons under the renewable fuels law passed in 2007. Conventional biofuel will be reduced to 13 billion gallons per year from 14.4, a decrease that represents nearly the entire amount of ethanol currently produced in Indiana. The proposal also reduces cellulosic biofuels to 17 million from 1.75 billion.
Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded it in 2007, setting required production goals for various biofuels to stimulate production of alternative fuels and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The EPA had been considering revising its 2014 mandate in part because declining demand for gasoline has led to a corn ethanol "blend wall," the point at which the market cannot consume as much ethanol as the EPA requires to be produced. Causes of declining demand for gasoline are linked to increased fuel economy in our nation’s fleet and an economy stuck in a prolonged recession.
The proposed changes to the RFS will likely have significant impacts on farmers and rural communities through reduced corn prices and farm incomes, market opportunity and access, and job losses. Additionally, this decision will thwart progress toward energy independence, have negative consequences on air quality, and stifle the development of new innovations.
Farm Bureau members are urged to provide comments to the EPA during the 60-day public comment period indicating how critical the RFS has been to their businesses and communities and how the proposed changes will harm them. Take action now and submit your comments by visiting www.ifbtakeaction.org.
FARM BILL CONFERENCE NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AMID STARK DIFFERENCES Top-ranking farm bill conferees resumed talks again this week in an attempt to work out differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill and find some common ground on the long-term legislation before the year expires. Senate Ag Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) is expected to outline a full-fledged Senate framework in response to House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas’ (R-Okla.) recent proposal to make changes to the commodity title that focus on production costs and his recent emphasis on target prices as a safety net should markets collapse. In contrast, the Senate version focuses on revenues for determining levels of aid to farmers. As a result of the different approaches to reform, the new farm bill will likely include two options in its commodity title: a Senate plan geared to revenues, a House alternative keyed more to production costs.
Both approaches are designed to save money and reduce the federal budget, but each has run into some challenges for insisting that farmers be paid on what they actually plant and not according to the artificial “base acre” formula used now for direct payments.
In addition to finding a compromise on very different commodity title proposals, the conferees must also find a solution to vastly different nutrition title or SNAP proposals, the nearly $40 billion proposed cuts by the House and $4 billion in the Senate version. However, some progress appears to have been made. According to committee member Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Texas), many of the details of rural development, research and trade programs have already been ironed out by the committee.
That now leaves the most difficult part for last: completing a commodity title that works for farmers in every region and commodity type and compromising on cuts to a nutrition program that still provides for the most vulnerable while reducing abuses. With time running short before the end of the calendar year, a completed farm bill is looking less and less attainable before the Christmas break, according to recent statements made by farm bill conference committee chairman Lucas. “We’re at the point in time where it should be possible to conclude this process, but…there are some very philosophical differences: the House perspective on how many dollars in the nutrition savings reform you have, the difference between the House and Senate perspectives on what kind of a safety net we have in the commodity title,” said Lucas.
BOEHNER HIRES IMMIGRATION POLICY EXPERT TO LEAD HOUSE REFORM EFFORTS Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has hired a veteran expert on immigration policy, a move that could signal a renewed House effort to act on the issue in 2014. Rebecca Tallent, director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, will start her new job as assistant to the Speaker on Wednesday. Tallent previously served as chief of staff to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and was deeply involved in efforts to pass immigration reform in 2006 and 2007.
Advocates for immigration reform cheered the hiring of Tallent, viewing it as a sign that Boehner is serious about pursuing legislation in 2014. Boehner has repeatedly expressed his commitment to tackling immigration reform, but he has faced mounting criticism from advocates, including some Republicans, over the House’s inaction on the issue so far. While the Senate passed a comprehensive bill in June, the House has not voted on any immigration legislation this year, and Boehner has not said how or when the House would move on the issue, other than to stress that the lower chamber would address immigration in a series of bills, not one large overhaul.
“For the House to pass immigration reform, it needs an opportunity to work through its own process, moving smaller, piecemeal bills that members feel they have the opportunity to review and allow their constituents to vote,” Tallent wrote. Immigration reform activists have drawn increased attention in recent weeks, holding a fast and camping out on the National Mall.
Advocates for an immigration overhaul see a narrow window for the House to act in early 2014 before the midterm election campaigns heat up. Obama is expected to push for immigration reform in his State of the Union address in January.