[r76] Helping Hoosier Farmers (6/21/2011)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Start Date: 6/21/2011 All Day
End Date: 6/21/2011

Helping Hoosier Farmers

Agriculture has been a staple of Indiana's economy from the time our state was first settled to present day. Hoosier farmers bring immense value to our state from providing Indiana with a robust industry to supplying our farmers markets.

This legislative session, it was important to me that I aid our farmers in as many ways possible which is why I supported legislation to help Hoosier farmers. It is essential that legislators take steps to protect Indiana's agricultural community.

Agritourism is critical to the economic health of rural regions in our state and to the sustainability of family farms. House Enrolled Act 1133 addresses agritourist safety and liability reform. 

Agritourism is a booming industry in Indiana and allows Hoosiers the ability to experience farm-life firsthand by allowing participation in agricultural experiences such as farmer's markets, mazes, petting zoos, scenic byways tours, wineries, living history farms, tractor hay rides and u-pick it farms.

For example in our community, we have the New Generation Dairy Farm, where the owner, Brian Rexing, was recently named for being the 2011 Outstanding Dairy Producer of the Year by the Indiana Professional Dairy Producers.

The bill gives Hoosier family farmers, who participate in agritourism, limited liability protection.  Providers of agritourism will be responsible for posting warning signs and including warning notices in contracts signed by participants informing them of the risks that come with agritourism activities.

The bill states that an agritourism provider is not liable for the injury or death of participants if the cause is part of risks that inherently come with agritourism activities.

Additionally, House Enrolled Act 1387 was passed which streamlines the referendum process for the continuation of the Commodity Market Development Council and provides additional options for check-off programs. 

Agriculture is one of the most important industries in Indiana and needs Hoosier support, which we can do by visiting local farmers' markets in our community.  The recent floods have caused our farmers to face many obstacles this season and they need our support now more than ever. 

The advantages of farmers' markets are vast.  They allow us to support our local economy, intake nutritionally rich food and help the environment by reducing gas amounts needed for food transport.

I encourage you all to visit a local farmers' market this summer. There are many to visit in our community, below is information for two:

The Vanderburgh County Farm Bureau Farmers' Market runs every Friday through October 7th from 8:00 am to 2:00pm in downtown Evansville.

For more information go to:

The Farmers Market in Mount Vernon kicked off its third year last Tuesday and will run every Tuesday through August. It has a new location this year, which is located on East 4th street between McDonalds and Dominos Pizza and will be open from 2:00pm to 5:00pm. 

For more information go to: http://www.ag.purdue.edu/counties/posey/Pages/MtVernonFarmers%27Market.aspx

Farmers' markets provide producers and growers yet another tool to market and to sell their agricultural commodities. Their locally grown food is cost affordable and provides a fresh, tasty and most importantly nutritious food option.

Farming is a way of life in Southern Indiana and I will continue to support this industry when voting on farm legislation in the General Assembly.  Our farmers have had definite weather setbacks this season, but I feel confident our community will rally together and that we will soon be back on track.