PR Manager, Indiana Farm Bureau
(Indianapolis) – March 14, 2018 – Indiana Farm Bureau celebrates successful advocacy efforts at the close of the 2018 session of the General Assembly. Indiana’s largest farm organization achieved success on its priority issue related to rural broadband.
INFB’s top priority this year focused on the expansion of reliable, sufficient broadband internet access for Indiana’s unserved areas. House Enrolled Act 1065 authorizes the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to study broadband expansion and tools that may be used to assist in its deployment. In addition, HEA 1065 establishes a grant program for broadband deployment administered by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs.
“The passing of HEA 1065 is a constructive step toward tackling the problem many Hoosiers face when it comes to getting adequate internet access, but more work will be needed by policymakers and service providers to meet the needs of rural Indiana,” said Randy Kron, INFB president. “The deployment of broadband will help Indiana’s farmers keep up with online permitting processes, and the task of moving and uploading farm data from modern agricultural equipment. Rural communities as a whole will also benefit as broadband internet has become a necessity for small businesses, and schools that are shifting to web-based learning and online testing.”
Early in the session, INFB members were instrumental in stopping HB 1005’s momentum. HB 1005 would have forced more than 300 townships with a population of less than 1,200 people to merge with a neighboring township. This would have affected nearly one-third of Indiana’s geography. INFB had numerous concerns about the bill including the likelihood that tax rates for lower rate townships would have increased when common rates were set in the restructured townships. The bill died when it was not called in the House for a final vote.
“Our members’ advocacy efforts were vital to stopping this bill, which was a priority for the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the House majority caucus,” said Katrina Hall, INFB’s director of public policy. “They voiced their concerns with the bill to legislators at the Statehouse, during third house meetings and via email.”
Other key bills for agriculture which were pushed by INFB include:
- HEA 1089 – Making changes to the authority of the St. Joseph River Basin Commission, and including surveyors and Soil and Water Conservation District staff on the commission.
- HEA 1115 – Protecting landowners from liability if someone goes through or upon their property for the purposes of accessing a trail or greenway.
- HEA 1227 – Adding waterhemp, marestail, Palmer amaranth, Powell amaranth, smooth pigweed, rough pigweed and poison hemlock to the noxious weed list.
- HEA 1233 – Authorizing a study committee to review government programs and research related to non-point source impacts on water quality. Among other provisions, it also approves the use of purple marks as a way to expand the options for marking property to provide notice against trespassing.
- SEA 212 – Allowing bulk milk haulers to obtain an annual overweight milk hauling permit instead of the previous one-time use permit.
- SEA 331 – Authorizing the State Department of Health to adopt rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act produce rule.
“These great successes at the Statehouse would not be possible without our members’ time and effort. I appreciate all the hard work they put in during session to positively impact agriculture,” said Kron. “Our members’ commitment to be involved in the process by visiting the Statehouse, attending third house meetings and inviting legislators to their farms is invaluable.”
About Indiana Farm Bureau: Since 1919, Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) has protected the livelihood, land, equipment, animals and crops of Hoosier farmers. It is the state’s largest general farm organization and a farmer’s strongest advocate. INFB works diligently to ensure a farmer’s right to farm, because agriculture is so vital to Indiana’s economy. Learn more at INFB.org.