Annie Ropeik

IPBS Economy Reporter

Annie Ropeik is the economy and business reporter for the Indiana Public Broadcasting network, based at WBAA. She’s covered farming, fisheries and other industries at public radio stations from Massachusetts and Delaware to Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, and earned accolades from the Alaska and Delaware Press Clubs for her reporting on rural business issues. Originally from Silver Spring, Md., Annie has a Hoosier mother and a degree in classics from Boston University. She also performs a mean car concert, boasts a worryingly encyclopedic knowledge of One Direction lyrics and is a Hufflepuff.

In Indiana, Vice President Pence's hometown has one of the top concentrations of skilled immigrant workers in the country. In Columbus, Ind., manufacturers and residents depend on open borders to move both products and people, but continued uncertainty over the Trump administration's immigration policies is leading to some anxiety there.

An Indiana House committee approved a bill Wednesday that tweaks the permitting process for big livestock farms – despite some public confusion and concerns about the impact of the changes.

The bill, from Rep. David Wolkins (R-Wabash), streamlines the permitting process for confined feeding operations (CFOs) and their larger counterparts, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Gov. Eric Holcomb is declaring a disaster in a lead-contaminated neighborhood of East Chicago, Indiana. The order, announced Thursday, fulfills a request that former Gov. Mike Pence denied before he left office.

In the declaration, Holcomb says he’ll ask for federal assistance to relocate residents still living in the affected area. And those families say they need all the assistance they can get.

The 30-day emergency declaration spans the city’s 322-acre Environmental Protection Agency Superfund site, which includes the Calumet neighborhood and around 3,000 residents.

A new report says some Indiana cities could be among the most impacted in the country by a potential trade war.

The Brookings Institution says Columbus is just more than 50 percent dependent on exports – more than any other metro area in the country. Elkhart, Kokomo and Lafayette are also in the top 10.

 

A new study from Purdue University on the effects of the state’s new method for taxing farmland shows what rural areas will take the biggest hit from the change.

Indiana taxes farmland mainly on the value of crops the soil can produce. But that calculation has lagged behind the current crop market.

It based farmland property assessments on 4-year-old crop prices, meaning taxes climbed even as farm revenues began to decline.

 

A panel of judges have decided to continue the suspension of President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigration after a hearing on Feb. 8. On Feb. 3, a federal judge halted the travel restrictions to seven countries.

Trump responded to the news by tweeting, “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

In the meantime, Indiana towns with large immigrant populations are already grappling with its impacts.

 

Generations of farmers, agronomists, lawmakers and other alumni of Purdue’s College of Agriculture met for their annual Fish Fry, amid a lot of political and economic uncertainty for the farm industry.

That fact wasn’t lost on the hundreds of Purdue agriculture alumni who flocked to the Indiana State Fairgrounds Saturday.

Most of them rely on farm exports to Mexico, China and other countries where President Donald Trump has pledged to reform trade deals. And Indiana Agriculture Secretary Ted McKinney says it’s on people’s minds.

President Donald Trump’s immigration order barring refugees, as well as immigrants and visa-holders from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, impacts businesses with many foreign workers – including Cummins Engine.

The Columbus-based manufacturer has many employees born in other countries, and more than half of its workers are based overseas.

Indiana’s $11 billion farming sector is hoping to benefit under President Donald Trump.

The new commander-in-chief has threatened some trade deals that agriculture relies on. But many in the industry hope his nominee to lead the Department of Agriculture will have a different take.

Sonny Perdue is a former Georgia governor and commercial farming veteran. His home state is known for cotton, peanuts and livestock, not corn and soybeans.

But Jane Ade Stevens, Indiana Corn Marketing Council and Soybean Alliance CEO, says Perdue still has a background in cash crops.

The Senate Local Government Committee will wait to vote on a bill that would require law enforcement to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary.”

The proposal raised alarm with lawmakers and members of the public Wednesday at its first hearing.

The bill, from state Sen. James Tomes (R-Wadesville), would require a mayor or other public official to dispatch all available law enforcement within 15 minutes of a report of a mass traffic obstruction.

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