Different seasons for different reasons: Basketball to agriculture to legislation  - Indiana Corn and Soy

Different seasons for different reasons: Basketball to agriculture to legislation 

By Joe Stoller, ISA Membership & Policy Committee Chair

There’s a season for everything. For basketball fans, this is March Madness. The Super Bowl wraps up football season, and the World Series is the end of baseball season. As farmers, we live in the seasons. Many of us are preparing for planting season, and it doesn’t seem like harvest was that long ago. 

As the chair of ISA’s Membership & Policy Committee, we keep track of the legislative season, too. On March 14, the Indiana General Assembly ended its 2024 legislative session kind of quietly. In the past few weeks, Gov. Eric Holcomb has been considering which bills to sign and which bills to veto. 

For those of us following farm-related bills from the Statehouse, there isn’t too much to report. 

House Enrolled Act 1183, the Foreign Ownership of Farmland bill authored by Rep. Kendell Culp (R-Rensselaer), was signed by Gov. Holcomb on March 15. The bill prohibits foreign adversaries, as defined by the U.S. State Department, from acquiring or leasing agricultural land. The final bill also prohibits land purchases and leases within a 10-mile radius of military installations. Exceptions were given to dual citizens, lawful permanent residents and residential rentals for university students and professors. 

The Indiana Attorney General would handle suspected violations with illegally obtained land subject to losses and penalties. While this bill got pushback from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation for potentially hurting current negotiations with foreign companies, exemptions were granted for lease renewals made before July 1, 2024. 

The drainage handbook language contained in HB 1417, Agricultural Matters bill authored by Rep. Beau Baird (R-Greencastle), was inserted into the Department of Natural Resources bill, HB 1401, which was signed by the governor on March 13. 

Even though there wasn’t a lot of farm-related action in the Statehouse, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The M&P staff and members were active in laying the groundwork for more important bills to fight for next year. 

Among the more important bills we are focusing on next year is an income tax incentive bill for retailers, HB 1315. This bill was introduced in this year’s Indiana General Assembly. It would boost investment in modern fuel pumps and tanks and to create a wider range of fuel options for Indiana. The goal is to get this bill through the Indiana General Assembly in 2025. 

If this incentive is adopted, we believe it will add more than $223 million in economic activity from biodiesel and grow demand for 51 million more bushels of corn for ethanol production. 

Like many of us out there, this would mean a lot for my farm. Nearly all of my corn production goes into ethanol, and almost all of my soybean crop goes into biodiesel. These days we grow fuel as well as food. 

I know it seems as though I say this a lot – of course the most important messages are repeated – but we need as many farmers as possible to become Indiana Soybean Alliance policy members. We can only accomplish our goal to make Indiana farms more profitable with more numbers behind us. When the senators and representatives in Congress and the Statehouse see house unified and strong we are, they work harder to get our bills adopted. 

If you have questions about becoming a member, contact Khyla Goodman in our office at kgoodman@indianasoybean.com.

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