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Click Public Policy Dispatch - Volume 13, Issue 4 to view this as a web page.

December 21, 2012
Volume 13
Issue 4

FARM BUREAU TO HOST LEGISLATIVE KICKOFF LUNCHEON ON JANUARY 8  On January 8, the second working day of the 2013 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Farm Bureau will host a lunch meeting for all members of the Indiana General Assembly at the Westin Hotel in downtown Indianapolis.  County Farm Bureau presidents as well as the chairs of key county Farm Bureau committees will be invited to attend.  This meeting represents an important part of Farm Bureau’s efforts to establish and maintain a good working relationship with legislators and to impress on them the true grassroots character of our organization.  If you receive an invitation, it’s because you have indicated a willingness to serve in an important leadership role in your county Farm Bureau and we urge you attend.  If you do plan to attend the January 8 event, we also ask that you make an extra effort to personally invite all the legislators who represent your county and let them know that you look forward to seeing them there.  The meeting will also feature remarks from the state’s incoming Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Lt. Governor-elect Sue Ellspermann.

GRASSROOTS EFFORTS ESSENTIAL  After the kickoff luncheon, we hope to continue our grassroots legislative action through member engagement with your elected officials.  Throughout the legislative session, much of our success hinges on face-to-face contact between Farm Bureau members and state senators and representatives. These efforts are important both at the Statehouse and at home in third-house meetings.  Please contact Pete Hanebutt either directly or through your regional manager to schedule Statehouse visits or to put your third-house meeting on our calendar.  Pete can be reached at (317) 692-7811 or via email:

DECEMBER REVENUE FORECAST RELEASED  On December 17, the State Budget Committee received the latest state revenue forecast from a bipartisan panel of fiscal experts.  The much anticipated December revenue forecast indicated that the state will have an income increase – plus the surplus being left by the outgoing administration of Gov. Mitch Daniels – to budget for in the next the biennium.  But the experts warned that some of the new money will be eaten up by increasing Medicaid costs.  The new revenue forecast predicts that state government will receive $27.9 billion in the next two-year budget cycle.  If this is the case, it would be about $1.28 billion more than the state took in during the previous two years. 

While this is good news, it may make the job of crafting the new budget even more difficult as worthwhile programs and projects that have had their funding cut back in the past several budgets will be competing for a limited pot of available money.  The next forecast is scheduled for mid-April, and that will provide the projections on which the 2013-2015 budget is eventually based.

HALL MEETS WITH ELLSPERMANN TO DISCUSS SPF  On December 12, Farm Bureau’s Katrina Hall met with Lt. Governor-elect Sue Ellspermann and others who will be top officials in the incoming Pence administration to discuss Farm Bureau’s concern with the soil productivity factor adjustments proposed by the state’s Department of Local Government Finance.  As a state representative in 2012, Ellspermann supported the Farm Bureau endorsed legislation to delay the effective date of the proposed SPF adjustment for a year.  That delay is saving Indiana farmers an estimated $57.4 million in property taxes this year alone.  As lieutenant governor, Ellspermann will serve as the state’s secretary of agriculture and in that role will be a leading advocate for agricultural interests within the administration.  Ellspermann quickly grasped both the impact and the inequity of the SPF changes and pledged her support for a permanent fix of the DLGF proposal.

STATE FERTILIZER USE REGULATIONS GO INTO EFFECT FEBRUARY 16  Farmers and agri-businesses will be required to be in full compliance with regulations from the Office of Indiana State Chemist that address agricultural uses of fertilizer, including manure.  The regulations primarily codify existing nutrient management and application practices that occur on farms.  Farmers who comply with the rule do have some protection from enforcement actions by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management if a storm event causes manure or other fertilizer to run off a field.  The state chemist has authority to issue fines for violations of the rule.  More information can be found at:

POULTRY PRODUCTS SOLD AT FARMERS MARKETS The Indiana State Department of Health is adopting regulations to implement requirements that allow for the sale of on-farm processed poultry without complying with all ISDH rules.  As proposed, the poultry will have to be frozen immediately after processing and remain frozen at a temperature below 28 degrees to fall within the exemption.

FISCAL CLIFF AND GUN CONTROL DOMINATE NATIONAL NEWS  The tragic shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut and the political brinkmanship as the federal government approaches the so-called fiscal cliff dominated the national news this week.  The renewed call for a national discussion of gun control and the January 1, 2013, deadline to address the tax code provisions that are set to expire on that date have been given extensive coverage in the general media.  The Dispatch will not discuss these issues other than to request and urge all Farm Bureau members to contact their current congressman regarding the death tax (see next headline). 

ACTION ALERT – DEATH TAX INCREASES IF CONGRESS DOES NOT ACT  Congress needs to act before the end of the year on the estate or “death” tax.  On January 1, 2013, the death tax exemption will shrink to $1 million and the top rate will jump to 55 percent. 

There is still time to send emails to your member of Congress.  Indiana Farm Bureau needs at least two members per county Farm Bureau to send an email to Congress on the estate tax.  Please be a part of the 10,000 Farm Bureau members expected to contact Congress and take action this year to stop a huge increase in the death tax.  Take action HERE.  Numerous tax provisions will be up for debate during the lame duck session as well as in the larger context of tax reform.  Please stay informed and involved in this issue in the coming months.  Contact Megan Ritter, or 317-692-7833.

FARM BILL UPDATE  With each passing day, it becomes increasingly doubtful that there will be re-authorization of a five-year farm bill in 2012.  An aide to Speaker Boehner (R-Ohio) quoted the following to a reporter:  “We can’t drop a farm bill in the middle of whatever is negotiated (in the fiscal cliff legislation).  A 1,000-page bill (the 2012 farm bill) on top of whatever is negotiated will just make our vote situation harder.  If we can agree on a top-line number, we suspect the committees will have a much easier time getting to a bill next year under regular order.”

The last statement refers to an idea which has circulated that potentially a savings number somewhere between the $23 billion saved by the Senate-passed bill and the $35 billion saved by the House Ag Committee-passed bill would be dictated by House and Senate leadership.  That money could be used to offset the costs of extending some tax provisions in a potential fiscal cliff bill.  The schedule makes it more likely both the House and Senate will have to return to Washington on either December 26 or 27 to hopefully complete an extension of the farm bill and to deal with the fiscal cliff.  Contact Megan Ritter, or 317-692-7833.

EPA DOES NOT CHANGE FARM DUST STANDARD  The Environmental Protection Agency has issued updated regulations for particulate matter.  The new annual fine particulate matter standard will be set at 12 micrograms per cubic meter compared to 15 micrograms currently.  The agency did not change the existing daily standards for fine particles or the existing daily standard for coarse particles which includes farm dust.  EPA also dropped proposed new particulate matter standards for haze visibility on the grounds that the 24-hour standard was sufficient.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review its air quality standards every five years to determine whether the standards should be revised.  The law requires the agency to ensure the standards are “requisite to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety” and “requisite to protect the public welfare.”  A federal court required EPA to issue a final standard by December 14 because the agency did not meet its five-year legal deadline for reviewing the standards.  Farm Bureau supports EPA’s decision to retain the current 24-hour standard for coarse particulate matter, which includes farm dust.  In comments previously filed with EPA regarding the new standards, Farm Bureau argued that EPA does not have sufficient scientific evidence to justify further tightening of the standard.

INDIANA HOSTS AG LEADERS AT TASTE OF THE STATES  Don Villwock, Megan Ritter and Kent Yeager of Indiana Farm Bureau participated in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s annual Taste of the States holiday reception for congressional staff, agency personnel and other agriculture leaders in Washington, D.C.  This is a great event to showcase agriculture from across the country and meet with a diverse group of agricultural leaders.  Indiana Farm Bureau provided samples of Indiana duck at the reception.

PENCE ANNOUNCES MORE APPOINTMENTS  As Governor-elect Mike Pence moves closer to his January 14 inauguration, he continues to name key members of his administration.  This week he announced that Rob Carter will continue in his current position as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources and that former Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Carter will be the new Indiana State Police Superintendent.  He also designated Jeff Cardwell, currently a member of the Indianapolis – Marion County City County Council, to lead the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
JILL LONG THOMPSON TO HEAD FARM CREDIT  President Obama has nominated former Indiana congresswoman and gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson to be chair and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration.  Long Thompson served in Congress from 1989 to 1995, was under secretary of agriculture for rural development from 1995 to 2001, and was the Democratic candidate for governor of Indiana in 2008.

LUGAR TO JOIN GERMAN MARSHALL FUND  The German Marshall Fund of the United States announced this week that Indiana Senator Richard G. Lugar will join GMF as a Senior Transatlantic Fellow when he leaves the U.S. Senate in January 2013.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR SKILLMAN TO BE CEO OF RADIUS INDIANA  Radius Indiana, an eight-county regional economic development cooperative, announced this week that current Lt. Governor Becky Skillman will be the company’s new president and CEO.  Skillman is expected to assume her new role on February 1, 2013.  Radius Indiana includes Crawford, Daviess, Dubois, Greene, Lawrence, Martin, Orange and Washington counties.  Skillman, a Bedford native, represented many of these counties in the Indiana Senate before her election as lieutenant governor in 2004.

BENNETT HEADED TO FLORIDA  Indiana’s outgoing Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, who was defeated by Glenda Ritz in the November election, has accepted a position as Florida’s new commissioner of education.  The Florida post, which is similar to the one Bennett will leave in Indiana, is filled by the state’s Board of Education rather than being an elected position.  It has been frequently suggested that Indiana’s top education official should be appointed rather than elected.

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