Grassroots action, cooperation with ag partners result in legislative success for IFB
In spite of major legislative initiatives undertaken this session, the 2014 session of the General Assembly ended one day early with very high levels of success for farmers across the state.
The legislative package that passed for agriculture is evidence that the members of Indiana Farm Bureau were heard loud and strong. The actual number of bills impacting agriculture passing this session was the highest in recent memory. This alone is a sign of the hard work of members and lobbyists who delivered the IFB policy message and the growing clout of agriculture in the General Assembly.
“We are grateful for the legislature’s support of agriculture again this session and of the dedicated efforts of our members,” said IFB President Don Villwock. “IFB’s legislative success depended on concerted efforts with commodity partners and other allies like the Association of Indiana Counties,” he added.
The most critical win for farmland owners was the third delay of the soil productivity factors proposed by the Department of Local Government Finance back in February 2012.
A seat for agriculture on the tax commission contained in the personal property tax legislation of SEA 1was prioritized by IFB and offers a platform for input into future tax reforms.
Working tirelessly with commodity partners yielded another big win for agriculture in the ag trespass language of SEA 101. The heightened penalties in SEA 101 for trespassing on an ag operation when coupled with damage provide a real disincentive. Eliminating the need to post signs to prevent trespassing is a very practical victory for Indiana farmers.
SEA 186 protects farming in the future by expanding the statutory vision for agriculture in the ISDA statute and expressing a priority for farmers’ rights to choose their practices.
The list of victories is long and progress was made in many other areas, including levees, CAFO permitting, child labor, water resources, diversified agriculture and a tax incentive for preserving barns built before 1950. Agriculture’s youth were front and center in SEA 114 (Sen. Leising, R-Oldenburg and Rep. Cherry, R-Greenfield) by providing up to five days of excused absence from school while exhibiting at the State Fair.
“I am so proud of the involvement of our members and the team effort we had at the Statehouse this year. While we can enjoy the success achieved in this year’s session, there is always more work to be done,” said Katrina Hall, director of state government relations. “Our policy process in the coming months will reveal IFB priorities, but we know that farmland taxes, annexation, water resources and government reform will be on the list.”