A total of 327 Indiana Farm Bureau members, legislators and staff met in Indianapolis for the INFB legislative kickoff.
The 9th annual kickoff took place on Jan. 3, the opening day of the 2018 session of the Indiana General Assembly.
Members who attended the kickoff started the day with an advocacy briefing. The INFB public policy team spoke to members in depth about the legislative priorities the organization will focus on this year. Those priorities include protecting livestock farmers and their operations, strengthening rural quality of life, limiting annexation and ensuring assessment uniformity.
“It [the legislative kickoff] gives us all a good starting point and a good base to work from as the counties come in and start visiting with the legislators,” said Virgil Bremer, Rush County Farm Bureau president. “That helps keep our message consistent.”
After the policy briefing, members heard from two guest speakers. Rep. Ed Soliday updated members on the status of road funding, which was a priority issue for INFB last session. Lieutenant Gov. Suzanne Crouch also addressed INFB members during the kickoff. Crouch spoke to the importance of agriculture to the state, the need for broadband in rural communities and assured members that she would work to protect livestock operations.
Following the guest speakers, INFB members had the opportunity to meet with their legislators. In total, 67 members of the General Assembly met with INFB members over lunch. INFB members were able to speak with their legislators about the issues important to agriculture.
“When you sit down and break bread together it builds a common bond,” Bremer said, adding that it shows “we’re trying to find a way to work together.”
INFB also recognized select legislators for their outstanding work in support of agriculture during the lunch. Rep. Ed Soliday received the 2017 Legislator of the Year Award for his efforts toward the passage of the road funding legislation. Rep. Ryan Hatfield received the Emerging Leader Award for showing a strong interest in the issues that face agriculture. Rep. Scott Pelath received the Servant Leader Award for his support on agricultural issues during his 20 years of service in the House.