agriculture

Congress is once again considering a bill to help pay off more student debt for veterinarians in high-need, rural areas.

The proposal has stalled in committee for the past several years – but advocates for Hoosier vets say it’s needed now more than ever.

Indiana’s two USDA-designated veterinarian shortage areas cover most of the west central part of the state – two districts made up of 17 counties, centered around the cities of Lafayette and Brazil.

Hoosiers will see more farm equipment in the fields in the next few weeks, as spring corn and soybean planting ramps up.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture expects farmers in Indiana and nationwide to plant more soybeans than ever this year, while corn acreage looks to hold steady.

Purdue University agronomist and self-named “corn guy” Bob Nielsen says corn prices are still lackluster, with plenty in storage, and that’s driven soybean prices up.

An older audience of Indiana Farm Bureau members heard a younger perspective at their annual conference in Indianapolis this past weekend – from the head of millennial engagement at agribusiness giant Monsanto.

Vance Crowe told Hoosier farmers they should rethink how they communicate about the food system.

Crowe is one of many recent hires at Monsanto tasked with changing the public narrative about GMOs, industrial agriculture and other controversial issues.

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.

Robert S. Donovan / https://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/

According to the Indiana Department of Labor, the injury and illness rate of the state’s agricultural workers increased almost 30 percent between 2014 and 2015. But the numbers—from the state’s annual Survey of Occupational Illnesses and Injuries—don’t tell the whole story.

Drought Affecting Parts Of Southern Indiana

Dec 1, 2016
Of the major corn and soybean states, Indiana was one of the worst affected by the 2012 drought. Assoc. State Climatologist Ken Scheeringa says this year's drought is not as serious.
Of the major corn and soybean states, Indiana was one of the worst affected by the 2012 drought. Assoc. State Climatologist Ken Scheeringa says this year's drought is not as serious.

 

More than half of Indiana is experiencing abnormally dry soil conditions and parts of 22 southern Indiana counties are experiencing moderate or severe drought.

But Ken Scheeringa, Indiana’s associate state climatologist, says the situation isn’t as bad as it could be.

“The timing is everything. Summer time is not good. Fall is not so bad,” says Scheeringa.

Summer drought conditions affect crop production, but since harvest has wrapped up, Scheeringa says the impacts of a fall drought are limited.

There are at least four Indiana names rumored to be on President-Elect Donald Trump’s short list for Secretary of Agriculture.

Most of the Hoosier prospects to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture were on the Trump campaign’s agricultural advisory team.

Those prospects include Indiana State Agriculture Secretary Ted McKinney, seed corn farmer and former Congressional hopeful Kip Tom and Fair Oaks Farms CEO Mike McCloskey.

Consolidated Grain & Barge

A major soybean distributor will spend more than $30 million to expand its operations on the Ohio River.

Consolidated Grain & Barge, or CGB, is aiming to capitalize on growing export markets in countries like China by expanding its plant at the Port of Indiana-Mt. Vernon in Posey County.

The expansion will more than double CGB's soybean processing capacity there, with a new daily output that will fill 130 semi-trucks, or around three river barges.

sciondriver / https://www.flickr.com/photos/minidriver/14307500816/

A Michigan senator is introducing legislation that would let urban farmers access the traditional agricultural safety net.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) says urban farming tactics such as community gardens and rooftop, hoop house or vertical growing are letting more people get into the business.

She told reporters on a press call Monday that she wants to make sure these farmers are included in the 2018 Farm Bill -- an omnibus package of food and agricultural policy that was last reauthorized in 2014.

Sarah Fentem / WBAA

 At a Purdue-hosted forum Monday night, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson spoke to hundreds of questioning students who wanted to know what it could mean to have a Libertarian president.

Johnson focused many of his remarks on giving power to the states instead of the federal government.

The former Republican governor of New Mexico says he pushed for school choice and voucher systems in his state. If elected president, he says he’d eradicate what he calls the Department of Education’s way of solving problems.  

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