(Indianapolis) April 22, 2017 — Indiana Farm Bureau and Hoosier farmers have much to applaud with the conclusion of the 2017 session of the Indiana General Assembly. Indiana’s largest farm organization achieved success on priority issues related to infrastructure and the budget.
Farm Bureau’s top priority was sustainable funding for rural roads and bridges. House Enrolled Act 1002 provides a framework for road funding that relies on user fees: increased fuel taxes, uniform registration fee increases and the shift of the sales tax on gasoline to road funding.
“HEA 1002 is a truly historic bill,” stated Randy Kron, INFB president. It provides $260 million this next year for local roads and bridges and over $6 billion in new money for state and local roads over the next seven years.”
According to Kron, this was not an easy compromise. “No one wants to pay more taxes, and our General Assembly has shown that tax increases are not their way of normally doing business. In this instance, the tax increase was the responsible thing to do. Our grassroots membership developed policy several years ago to support increased fuel taxes and fees for roads and bridges, in order to maintain Indiana’s competitive advantage in moving products to processing facilities and ultimately to the consumer. That policy guided our efforts on HEA 1002.”
In addition to funding for rural roads and bridges, a highlight of a long session of the General Assembly is the passage of a two-year budget. Farm Bureau prioritized support for funding for equitable k-12 education, State Fair infrastructure and the Purdue Agricultural and Biological Engineering building. In addition, Farm Bureau was able to help secure funding for the Indiana Grown program.
“These budget supported initiatives all provide capacity for Indiana to continue to showcase and grow our agricultural sector,” noted Justin Schneider, INFB director of state government relations. “They are an investment in the future of agriculture and growth of the Indiana brand.”
Other key bills for agriculture which were pushed by INFB include:
- HEA 1237 - Improvements to the Grain Buyers and Warehouse laws and grain indemnity fund
- HEA 1491 - Clarification that ATVs and UTVs used on farm meet farm wagon definition
- HEA 1626 - Study of factors limiting broadband expansion into rural areas
- SEA 386 - Clarity regarding property tax appeal deadlines and grounds for review
- SEA 515 - Sales tax exemption for drainage tile
Kron applauded the efforts of Farm Bureau members to engage their legislators on issues impacting agriculture and rural Indiana. “The success of Farm Bureau comes from the commitment of farmers to know their legislators, serve as a resource, visit the statehouse and attend third house meetings. The value of engagement was relayed to me by Speaker Bosma who noted that positive outreach by Farm Bureau members was critical.” noted Kron. “Now that session is over, it is time for Farm Bureau members to thank their legislators and invite them to the farm to see firsthand how their decisions impact agriculture.”
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 very right to farm, because agriculture is so vital to Indiana’s economy. Learn more at INFB.org