March 7, 2014
COUNTY FARM BUREAU VISITS TO THE STATEHOUSE Legislators will be in committee hearings for the rest of the session, so we are not scheduling any more visits at this time.
Thank you to Knox and Tipton counties for very successful visits this week.
IT IS CRUNCH TIME! SESSION MUST END BY MARCH 14 BUT MAY BE SOONER See the IFB Tracking Report for specifics on all bills that are being tracked by Indiana Farm Bureau.
SOIL PRODUCTIVITY FACTOR SOLUTION MUST PASS THIS WEEK On Monday, SB 111 dealing with the soil productivity factors passed the House by a vote of 96-0. SB 111 was presented to the House by the sponsor, Rep. Don Lehe (R-Brookston). A dissent was immediately filed by Senate author, Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), with the intent of changing the Jan. 1, 2015 deadline to adopt new factors that was inserted on second reading in the House. Indiana Farm Bureau has been in negotiations with all parties this week. A conference committee will meet on Monday to discuss refinements to the proposal.
For the third session in a row, the General Assembly has recognized the need to stop the unjustified tax increases proposed by the DLGF in the soil productivity factors issued in February 2012. The final bill will either be the simple delay passed by the Senate or a more lasting solution as passed in the House. The House version puts the factors back to the original ones, in use since 1979, until such time as new ones are adopted in an open rule-making process. Due to the critical nature of this issue, Indiana Farm Bureau has supported both approaches. Legislative action is necessary to stop an unjustified tax shift to farmers of $57.4 million.
CRUCIAL ACTION REQUESTED: Members are asked to thank House and Senate members for their support of this issue and to PLEASE VOTE YES ON THE SB 111 CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORT.
ANNEXATION BILL PASSES THE HOUSE ON MONDAY AND MOVES TO CONFERENCE COMMITTEE On Monday, SB 273, dealing with annexation, passed the House by a vote of 97-0. Strongly supported by Indiana Farm Bureau, SB 273 (authored by Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo), is sponsored in the House by Rep. Robert Cherry (R-Greenfield). The House version provides for an annexation moratorium beginning April 1 and ending July 1, 2015 and for a study committee to thoroughly assess the issue for further action by the next General Assembly. Sen. Buck filed a dissent on SB 273 so that further improvements to the bill can be made. Indiana Farm Bureau and other groups, including the Association of Indiana Counties, have been involved in negotiations on the conference committee report.
ACTION REQUESTED: Members are asked to contact their legislators in both the House and Senate to ask for a YES VOTE ON SB 273. It is sorely needed to protect farmers from unreasonable annexation proposals.
ALLEN COUNTY SINGLE COUNTY EXECUTIVE BILL STILL IN PLAY On Tuesday, HB 1318, an election bill that includes the Allen County single county executive language, passed the Senate with a vote of 41-7. HB 1318, (authored by Rep. Kathy Richardson, R-Noblesville and sponsored by Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon), includes a mandatory November 2014 referendum in Allen County which would decide whether to have three county commissioners or a single county executive. If chosen, the single county executive would first be elected in 2018. The county council would become the legislative body and have nine district seats rather than district and at-large as they do now. In spite of objections by Indiana Farm Bureau, the Association of Indiana Counties and the Indiana Association of County Commissioners, the measure is still alive. A dissent was filed on HB 1318, and many conferees and advisors have been appointed. While Sen. Miller has pledged that Allen County will be the only county included, the measure is still against IFB policy and his pledge does not bind any future General Assembly.
ACTION REQUESTED: Members are asked to contact your representatives in both the House and Senate asking them to VOTE NO on an Allen County single county executive. This language will likely be in HB 1318 but could move to another bill.
BILLS RECEIVING A DISSENT IN HOUSE OF ORIGIN AND IN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE
HB 1001 State and Local Taxation (Rep. Eric Turner, R-Cicero)
HB 1046 Heritage Barn Property Tax Deduction (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield)
HB 1216 Zoning Commitments and Annexation (Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette)
Hearing held Mar. 6.
HB 1217 Environmental Permits Concerning Agriculture, Wetlands and Parks (Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem)
HB 1266 Local Government Finance Issues Including Changes to Budget Notices (Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington)
SB 106 Local Government Transparency (Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso)
Hearing held Mar. 5.
SB 111 Soil Productivity Factors (Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg)
SB 118 Reforms to Tax Increment Financing (Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon)
SB 176 Central Indiana Mass Transit (Sen. Pat Miller, R-Indianapolis)
SB 179 Various Ag Matters for Local Foods (Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City)
Hearing held Mar. 6.
SB 273 Approval of Annexation Agreements (Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo)
SB 357 Industrial Hemp and Transportation Fuel (Sen. Richard Young, D-Milltown)
BILLS RECEIVING CONCURRENCE IN HOUSE OF ORIGIN
HB 1009 Surveillance and Privacy (Rep Eric Koch, R-Bedford)
HB 1039 Indiana Grown Initiative (Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne)
HB 1099 Annexation of Noncontiguous Property (Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell)
HB 1300 Dairy Products (Rep. Don Lehe, R-Brookston)
SB 114 Excused Absences from School for State Fair Activities (Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg)
SB 359 Confined Feeding, Composting and Manure Storage (Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso)
BILLS PASSING BOTH HOUSES WITHOUT AMENDMENTS
HB 1053 Levee Associations (Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper)
HB 1076 INDOT Eminent Domain Actions (Rep. Dennis Zent, R-Angola)
HB 1219 Farm Products and Vehicles (Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield)
HB 1350 Agricultural Seed Testing (Rep. Jim Baird, R-Greencastle)
SB 80 Interim Study Committee Structure (Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne)
SB 101 Agricultural Trespass (Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle)
SB 186 State Policy of Agriculture and Farmers Rights (Sen. Carlin Yoder, R-Middlebury)
SB 217 Underground Storage Tanks and Onsite Reviews (Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso)
SB 271 Water Related Study Committee (Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso)
SB 311 Charges for Dogs Killing Livestock (Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport)
SB 339 Allow Alcoholic Beverages at State Fair (Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis)
SJR 9 Right to Hunt and Fish (Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford)
BILLS AWAITING ACTION IN HOUSE OF ORIGIN
HB 1083 Child Labor Law (Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel)
HB 1307 Natural Resource Matters (Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville)
SB 367 Tax Matters includes Rural Entrepreneur Program for OCRA (Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek)
SB 420 Property Tax Deadlines (Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport)
Changes assessment date to Jan. 1 but filing deadlines stay at May 15.
END OF SESSION WEBINAR FOR COUNTY LEADERS Indiana Farm Bureau will host a webinar on Mar. 20 to summarize the successes of the 2014 Session of the General Assembly. County Farm Bureau leaders are encouraged to participate to find out what ended up making it through the process and what we see coming for 2015. County Farm Bureau boards, PR coordinators and state policy action committees will be invited to participate in this members only event. Please plan to participate and encourage other members to participate, as well.
SAVE THE DATE: FARM BILL EDUCATION MEETINGS PLANNED FOR MARCH 27-28 Indiana Farm Bureau will be hosting a series of three regional farm bill meetings on Mar. 27-28, 2014. The purpose of the meetings will be to provide members, and other agricultural stakeholders, with an update on the Agricultural Act of 2014, or farm bill, which Congress passed in February. While many of the specific program details are still being defined and developed by the USDA, the farm bill meetings will provide an update and overview about each of the key farm bill titles and what farmers can likely expect moving forward. Special attention will be paid to the ARC and PLC commodity programs as well as crop insurance. Guest speakers will include John Anderson, deputy chief economist and Matt Erickson, economist from American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. The event will be moderated by Kyle Cline, national policy advisor of Indiana Farm Bureau. Specific meeting locations are still being confirmed, but we ask that county and district leadership reserve the following dates and times:
- NORTH - Thursday, Mar. 27, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
- CENTRAL – Thursday, Mar. 27, 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., Indianapolis
- SOUTH – Friday, March 28, 9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
More information and an electronic invitation with registration will be sent out in the coming days. County Farm Bureaus interested in hosting farm bill education could take this opportunity to invite members and non-members in the county to attend one of these meetings.
IMMIGRATION REFORM EFFORTS PICK UP Farm Bureau has joined forces with the Partnership for New American Economy on a grassroots campaign highlighting the need for immigration reform in the agricultural sector. You can get more info about PNAE at their website.
Farm Bureau encourages counties to consider conducting a policy forum with other organizations on the topic of immigration reform, contact Congressional offices about the importance of immigration reform to secure ag labor and find members who could participate in the #IFarmImmigration campaign.
The campaign titled #IFarmImmigration will be a multi-month effort to share the need for immigration reform. They are spotlighting individual growers that have changed business decisions, had crop losses or have H-2A issues. Farmers wanting to be involved in this campaign can contact Kyle Cline for more information. Also, in conjunction with the #IFarmImmigration campaign, Farm Bureau released an updated labor study to provide data on ag labor. See more information.
FARM BUREAU CONTINUES TO LOOK AT CAMP TAX REFORM PROPOSAL The extensive tax reform proposal released by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is “a strong and much-needed start to what will surely be an extensive tax reform discussion,” according to American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman.
Camp’s proposal would lower both the top corporate income tax rate and the top individual tax rate to 25 percent, down from the current 35 percent for corporations and 39.6 percent for individuals.
While lower income tax rates sound good, the elimination or reduction of some key accounting methods and depreciation and expensing deductions could possibly offset the benefit of a lower income tax rate for farmers and ranchers. Farm Bureau continues to analyze the Camp proposal and will be providing additional information to members in the coming weeks.
NOMINATIONS SOUGHT FOR FIRST SOCIAL MEDIA FARMER OF THE YEAR AWARD Food Nutrition & Science, a leading trade publication for the food industry, has announced the launch of the first Social Media Farmer of the Year Award. The new award recognizes farmers who have incorporated social media, digital media and Internet strategies to achieve their business objectives, including growing revenue, sharing information for more effective farming practices and promoting positive awareness of the industry.
Nominations for the award are now being accepted. Farmers can nominate themselves or a colleague. The deadline for nominations is Mar. 31. The winner will be presented with a trophy and other prizes at the FMI Connect show in Chicago on Jun. 11. Sponsors of the award include Monsanto, Bolthouse Farms, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, AgChat Foundation and AgWired.
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO ASSIST FARMERS UNDERSTAND THE NEW FARM BILL The University of Illinois has announced a new farmdoc online webinar series for 2014, which begins on Feb. 27 and ends Mar. 31. The Agricultural Act of 2014, or farm bill, will be the focus of several of the webinars, including Feb. 27 - crop insurance and Mar. 5 - understanding the new commodity program.
All of the webinars are free but registration is required. See the complete webinar schedule.