Throughout this past session, it seemed as if only a few bills garnered significant media attention. With 225 new laws enacted in just 10 weeks, it would have been impossible to cover them all. However, the July 1 date for many of these new laws to take effect is quickly approaching, and today I would like to share with you one of the bills I co-authored, a bill I consider to be one of the most significant, but lesser known bills of the 2014 session.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1039 establishes the Indiana Grown Commission. This commission, which will be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, will be comprised of Indiana residents and marketing experts, as well as representatives from the agriculture industry, local retailers, farmers' markets and restaurants. These individuals will meet quarterly with the goal of marketing and promoting Indiana produced agricultural products.
We live in a very rural part of Indiana, so I don’t have to stress to you what a strong agricultural state we live in. However, what may surprise you is that Indiana imports nearly 90 percent of its food. Given our well established history as an agricultural state, frankly, I find that number troubling, and I wanted to be a part of something which allowed Indiana to showcase the strength of its agriculture industry.
With the support of both public and private sectors, we knew it was time we generate an Indiana-centric brand that would promote our agriculture among consumers throughout the state and throughout the country. To do so, this newly formed commission will meet throughout the year to brainstorm opportunities for connecting producers with local vendors and promoting their goods.
This is actually something other states have already done. In fact, many of these states already promote their locally grown and produced products, some with much success. For example, South Carolina developed the Certified South Carolina program and has since seen $265 million in new economic value in addition to $23 million in new tax revenue. Indiana already has a strong, steadily growing economy. However, this could provide just another welcomed boost.
I was pleased to see this legislation pass unanimously in both the House and Senate, and as a co-author, I am extremely proud to have been able to play a small part in its advancement. Because our communities are primarily rural, it is important to me that I find a way to promote the farmers who make up our district and are committed to feeding Hoosiers and growing Indiana’s economy. I strongly believe this legislation will do just that, but if you can think of any other ideas, please don’t hesitate to email me your thoughts at email@example.com.