Legislative study committees to analyze several significant rural issues

The summer of 2017 is shaping up to be a busy one for legislative study committees. At the close of this legislative session, there was a clear need to do more research and analysis on a variety of complex issues with the hope that the committees make a policy recommendation to the General Assembly for action in 2018.

Several of these study committees deal with issues that were a priority for Indiana Farm Bureau during the 2017 session or have the potential to greatly affect Farm Bureau members. Here’s a breakdown of those committees and their responsibilities:

  • Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) – Studying the transformation of traditional farms to CAFOs and the need for special regulations, as well as the proximity to and interaction of CAFOs with suburban and urban areas.
  • Wind energy – Studying the construction of wind power devices and the potential effects on health, public safety, property valuation and economic development as well as policies with potential conflicts of interest.
  • Rural broadband – Researching rural broadband service for all of Indiana and attempting to find an affordable solution that will bring broadband to the last mile.  This study committee was the result of INFB-supported HEA 1626 and has been a long-time priority of INFB members.
  • Water utility service – Researching how adequate and affordable water utility service can be provided in areas of Indiana in which water utility service is inadequate or costly.
  • Food deserts in Indiana – Identifying existing food desert areas in all of Indiana and various ways to address the problem of food deserts through private and public programs.  INFB hopes to provide not only the rural perspective of food access, but also ways to connect farmers’ products to areas of need.
  • Taxes – Discussing property tax relief in certain areas with deteriorated, vacant or abandoned properties, TIFs, school district financial condition analysis and monitoring, and tax incentives.
  • Health care – Studying shortage of health care providers in Indiana, improvements to the INSPECT program and changes in the state health care program to respond to decisions made on the federal level regarding healthcare.

INFB staff will be watching and participating in study committees as appropriate. The study committees provide an opportunity to educate legislators on how the issues impact agriculture and set the stage for legislation that will be debated in session.