January 3, 2014
MARK YOUR CALENDARS The 2014 legislative session will begin on Jan. 6. Indiana Farm Bureau’s legislative kickoff is on Jan. 8. (The most recent issue of The Hoosier Farmer has either hit your mailbox or soon will, and we’d like to draw your attention to the front page story under the headline “Grassroots involvement crucial to IFB’s efforts at the Statehouse.” The date for the Legislative Kickoff is incorrectly listed as Jan. 7. The correct date for the Legislative Kickoff is Jan. 8.) The State of the State address will be delivered on Jan. 14. The State of the Judiciary address is scheduled for Jan. 15. The General Assembly will observe the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20; no session or committees will be scheduled for that date. The General Assembly will not be in session on Feb. 6 due to mid-session break.
CROUCH SWORN IN AS AUDITOR Republican Suzanne Crouch became the state auditor on Jan. 2 with a low-key swearing in with just a couple dozen onlookers (Statehouse File). Crouch is the third person to hold the office – which oversees the state’s payroll and financial transactions – in the past six months. “To me, it’s important that I get in the office and I get started and start working to serve the citizens of Indiana,” Crouch said. “Pomp and ceremony is not nearly as important as doing the job.”
FIVE REPUBLICANS IN RUNNING FOR DISTRICT 78 As former Rep. Suzanne Crouch began her new duties as Indiana State auditor, five Republicans are now in the running for appointment to the Indiana House District 78 seat. Republican precinct committeemen from the district, which covers portions of Vanderburgh and Warrick counties, will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Peabody Energy in Evansville to select Crouch’s successor. That person will serve out the year remaining in her current term. Sean Selby of Evansville added his name to the list of four others who also want to replace Crouch. Others previously announced are Anne Rust Aurand of Newburgh, Jed Hutson of Newburgh, Michelle Mercer of Evansville, and Holli Sullivan of Evansville. All five candidates have confirmed they intend to run for a full, two-year term in 2014 if chosen to fill the vacancy.
REP. CHERRY APPOINTED TO COMMITTEE ON JOINT RULES House Speaker Brian C. Bosma (R-Indianapolis) announced that Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Greenfield) has been appointed to serve on the Committee of Joint Rules. He is also the Budget Sub-committee chair on the Ways & Means Committee and serves on the Local Government Committee, Rules & Legislative Procedures Committee and the Statutory Committee on Interstate & International Cooperation. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the Committee of Joint Rules in addition to my other committee appointments,” said Rep. Cherry.
GOOD WORKS OF INDIANA AGRICULTURE Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann announced that 37 teams from 17 Indiana colleges and universities will be competing in a competition to tell the story of the “Good Works of Indiana Agriculture” sponsored by the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
Lt. Governor Ellspermann and a committee of agriculture leaders, including IFB’s director of public relations Andy Dietrick, developed this competition to address the lack of knowledge and appreciation among the increasingly urban population of Indiana. She observed, “I am increasingly concerned about Hoosiers’ appreciation and knowledge of the agriculture industry as only 2 percent of Hoosiers live on a farm today. Thus, telling the story of Indiana agriculture to our young adults and increasingly urban population is even more important. All Hoosiers should know the vital role that Indiana farmers and the agriculture industry play in our economy, as well as the sustainable, quality practices deployed to supply healthy food, feed, fuel and fiber to our state, nation and world.”
To participate in the contest, colleges and universities were invited to establish teams of students supervised by a faculty or staff member. The winning proposal will earn a $25,000 prize including a $10,000 contribution to the college or university and an additional $15,000 to be shared by the students on the successful team.
OTHER STATE NEWS
SOIL PRODUCTIVITY FACTOR INPUT SOUGHT FROM MEMBERS On Nov. 13, the Department of Local Government Finance and Purdue presented revised soil productivity factors to the Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy. The results of the study show more variation than was originally predicted. Those findings are being reviewed by Purdue. Review by farmers across the state is definitely in order.
Farmer members are asked to review soil type data for the counties in which they farm to look for trends in the changes to predicted yields and resultant soil productivity rankings/ratings. Insight about specific soil types would be very helpful. To review your soils and comment, simply click on the rotating soil productivity rating image at infarmbureau.org. Please email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
SAVE THE DATE: INDIANA HORTICULTURAL CONGRESS – JAN. 21-23, 2014 The three-day congress and trade show will once again be held at the Wyndham Indianapolis West, 2544 Executive Dr., Indianapolis, IN 46241.
The Indiana Horticultural Congress is an educational meeting designed to meet the needs of fruit, vegetable, wine, organics and specialty crop growers and marketers in Indiana and surrounding states. All interested individuals are invited to attend. “Agritourism is all about bringing the families to the farm for enjoyment, education and the farm experience, but how do we know what the visitor wants. And once we understand that (if we can), how do we serve that need in a way that provides satisfaction to the extent not only that they return but that they will favorably share the experience with their friends, family and neighbors?” – Roy Ballard, Hancock County Extension educator.
SAVE THE DATE: CAMPAIGN MANAGEMENT SEMINAR Each year, Indiana Farm Bureau sponsors a campaign seminar (or “school”) as part of our continuing efforts to encourage concerned citizens to become actively involved in government at all levels. This seminar has been praised as a practical, hands-on workshop that focuses on the structure and organization required for a successful political campaign. Particular emphasis is placed on defining the respective roles of the candidate, the candidate’s spouse and the campaign manager.
We have enjoyed a very high success rate for attendees, and currently well over half of Indiana’s counties have at least one graduate of our school holding public office. This school is priced economically to ensure that it is affordable to candidates for all levels of public all levels of public office, even those with limited campaign treasuries. The next school will be held Feb. 3 and 4 in Assembly Halls A and B at the IFB home office. See the Campaign Management Seminar brochure to review more details.
TIME WINDING DOWN TO SUBMIT COMMENTS TO EPA ON PROPOSED RFS CHANGES The deadline to submit public comments to the EPA in reference to its proposed cuts to the RFS is Jan. 28. The EPA published its revised 2014 Renewable Fuel Standard requirements in the Federal Register on Nov. 29, kicking off the official 60-day public comment period. The published rule can be found in its entirety by clicking here.
The EPA proposal would cut nearly 3 billion gallons of biofuel that was originally mandated to be blended into the fuel supply. The proposed rule calls for a total of 15.21 billion gallons of biofuel to be blended into the motor fuel supply in 2014, 16 percent lower than the 18.15 billion gallons under the renewable fuels law passed in 2007. Conventional biofuel will be reduced to 13 billion gallons per year from 14.4 billion, a decrease that represents nearly the entire amount of ethanol currently produced in Indiana. The proposal also reduces cellulosic biofuels to 17 million from 1.75 billion.
Congress enacted the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005 and expanded it in 2007, setting required production goals for various biofuels to stimulate production of alternative fuels and reduce U.S. dependency on foreign oil. The EPA had been considering revising its 2014 mandate in part because declining demand for gasoline has led to a corn ethanol "blend wall," the point at which the market cannot consume as much ethanol as the EPA requires to be produced. Causes of declining demand for gasoline are linked to increased fuel economy in our nation’s fleet and an economy stuck in a prolonged slump.
The proposed changes to the RFS will have significant impacts on farmers and rural communities through reduced corn prices and farm incomes, market opportunity and access, and job losses. Additionally, this decision will thwart progress toward energy independence, have negative consequences on air quality, and stifle the development of new innovations.
Farm Bureau members are urged to provide comments to the EPA during the 60-day public comment period indicating how critical the RFS has been to their businesses and communities and how the proposed changes will harm them. Take action now and submit your comments.
FARM BILL COMPLETION STILL EXPECTED IN JANUARY The lead farm bill negotiators remain optimistic that a unified five-year House-Senate bill will be completed and ready for a vote in the new year, many indicating this could occur before the end of January. Several of the conferees have noted that the farm bill is essentially finished and only in need of some “tweaking” as lawmakers prepare to return to Capitol Hill next week after their holiday break. Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), one of the 41 farm bill conferees who are expected to vote on a unified House-Senate farm bill this month, told constituents in an email that most of the work is finished, but notably did not commit to a January goal for completion as many lawmakers have.
“The lead farm bill negotiators have outlined the reforms they agree can be made in the bill,” she said in the email. “Right before Christmas, they got estimates back to see how much these reforms would cost — or in some cases, save. Now, it’s a matter of tweaking the bill to make sure all the numbers add up, but we are on track to finish a comprehensive five-year farm bill during the first part of 2014.”