Supporting Hoosier farmers
The phrase “buy local” continues to grow in popularity. By supporting small businesses and farmers close to home, like buying Steckler grass-fed cheese near Dale, we are strengthening the local economy and benefiting families in our community. Small businesses and Hoosier farmers are the backbone of our state’s economy and create thousands of jobs for Hoosiers. We also rely on them for nutrition and a variety of services that can only be found in Indiana.
In an effort to jumpstart and promote Hoosier-grown agricultural products, the General Assembly passed the Indiana Grown Initiative this session. This initiative will be tasked to market and promote Indiana produced food. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) will develop and administer the Indiana Grown Initiative as well as establish fees for participation and rules concerning the program.
Other states have launched similar home-grown initiatives, which have been immensely successful. In fact, South Carolina has seen an additional $265 million in economic value and an extra $23 million in tax revenue as a direct result of the Certified South Carolina program.
Although Indiana has such strong agricultural ties, we still import about 90 percent of our food. This is why it is important that we create a brand associated with our state’s agriculture. It is my hope that this could promote Indiana agriculture, both on a local and national level, bringing additional revenue to our community. Farmers that join this program will receive Indiana Grown stickers for products such as produce, dairy, eggs, livestock and livestock products, fish, seafood and ornamental horticulture.
I was also proud to support legislation this year that reaffirms Indiana’s commitment to the farming industry, which is vital for the overall health of rural and Hoosier economies. It declares it a policy of the state to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agriculture and agri-business.
This measure also ensures that the Indiana Code will be constructed in a way that protects the rights of farmers to choose their farming and livestock practices with the use of ever-evolving technology.
Hoosier farmers contribute so much to Indiana, and it was my hope that by supporting these pieces of legislation, we are not only protecting their rights, but also promoting their high-quality goods as well. Their hard work and dedication deserves to be promoted and not just in Indiana but throughout the nation. For those interested in participating in this great imitative, I encourage you to visit www.in.gov/isda/2513.htm. I look forward to seeing Indiana Grown stickers listed on the products in our local grocery stores.