Agriculture is critical to the economic health of not only rural areas but the entire state. Of course we in Posey County already know this, which is why I supported many House bills this session that help this vital industry continue to thrive. We are blessed in Posey County to have a rich farming tradition and I want to keep that history growing.
One bill that will impact our agricultural areas relates to the Corn Marketing Council. The bill not only affects corn producers, but seeks to directly influence the ethanol industry and how it impacts consumers. It is essential that this renewable resource be made available and affordable to consumers and this bill works to ensure that happens.
Another bill that does not directly deal with agriculture, but will help family owned farming operations. The bill will phase out the inheritance tax after ten years. The death tax has a very negative effect on small family businesses in Indiana. Families work a lifetime to build their business but are currently penalized if they want to pass the business on to their children or siblings.
The sale of poultry at farmers markets was also addressed by the House in a bill. This legislation would expand the rights of an individual who sells items at a farmers’ market or roadside stand to be able to grow the food product not just from their home, but from other property they lease or own as well. The bill would also allow poultry to be sold at a farmer’s market or roadside stand if it was prepared following federal guidelines. Many local farmers at farmers’ markets are entrepreneurs, and the goal of this legislation is to eliminate unnecessary obstacles they face so they can more easily sell their homegrown foods.
We also passed a bill stating that frivolous lawsuits against agricultural operations shall have court costs and reasonable attorney fees awarded to the defendant. It allows restitution to property owners if an individual is convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine or marijuana on their property. The third part of the bill allows a more favorable choice of forum in a lawsuit with a multi-national agriculture corporation. Due to the various legal issues, the bill has caused some controversy. I think the bill will help address legal problems that affect agricultural and rural areas.
Supporting legislative measures that help our local farmers will always be a top priority of mine. I take pride in our robust farming community and want to see it prosper and grow.