Several of the group’s priority positions became law
By Diego Flammini
The Indiana Farm Bureau is happy with the way the state legislature handled some of its priorities during the past session.
“We had a very successful session this year,” Justin Schneider, director of state government relations with Indiana Farm Bureau, told Farms.com. “A lot of our priority issues were addressed and there were other issues that impacted agriculture and rural areas that we (saw) progress on.”
Extraterritorial jurisdiction was a key item for the organization entering the session.
Senate Enrolled Act 535 addresses the trend of municipalities using powers to restrict activities outside of their borders, Schneider said.
“A strong coalition of partners came together on this,” he said. “Over the past several years, what we’ve seen is that counties have regulations and then cities and towns were exercising powers to override those regulations set out by the county. That created conflict, some of which ended up in court. This legislation prevents dual regulation. You shouldn’t have regulations by cities over people who can’t vote for those municipal issues.”
The farm group also advocated for more broadband connectivity in rural areas.
Senate Enrolled Act 460 created a new program to distribute money for broadband projects in rural communities.
“Broadband is a critical economic development tool for rural areas and is important for farmers who are using technologies,” Schneider said. “It’s also important for quality of life and education needs. The (state) budget has US$100 million in it for broadband. It’s something the government pledged last summer so we’re really pleased to see that.”
In addition, Indiana Farm Bureau advocated for Senate Enrolled Act 516, which granted the Office of the State Seed Commissioner authority to apply to the USDA for federal approval for a hemp production program.
The organization is confident hemp production will become legal in the state.
Hemp “has been on our agenda for the last several years but wasn’t high on our priority list because we anticipate we can get it done,” Schneider said.
Hemp’s inclusion in the Farm Bill should make it easier to bring commercial production to the state, he added.
Justin Schneider/Farm Bureau photo