Gov. Mike Pence pledges to continue to support agriculture during a speech at Indiana Farm Bureau’s Spring Conference in Indianapolis. He noted the state’s economy is dependent on farming.
Gov. Mike Pence pledges to continue to support agriculture during a speech at Indiana Farm Bureau’s Spring Conference in Indianapolis. He noted the state’s economy is dependent on farming.
INDIANAPOLIS – Agriculture is business in Indiana — and it is a big, important business, said Gov. Mike Pence at the Indiana Farm Bureau Spring Conference in Indianapolis.

“For our administration, job creation is job one. We are committed to seeing more jobs created in the city and on the farm across the state of Indiana. We are working and making great strides in that area,” the governor said, noting the Indiana Economic Development Corp. closed a record number of deals last year.

Unemployment, which was above 8 percent when Pence became governor a little more than a year ago, now is at 6.9 percent as more than 42,000 net new jobs have been created across the state.

Indiana has the lowest unemployment rate in the Midwest, Pence reported as Farm Bureau members applauded.

“This means great things for agriculture, too,” he said. “We’re looking to bring in major food-processing, value-added distributors into the state.”

Pence noted Indiana is quickly becoming a leader in technology and innovation in agriculture. A new food and agriculture innovation initiative will provide a framework for collaboration and synergy among the food processing and agriculture leaders in the state, he said.

“We want to create, in effect, a Silicon Valley for food and ag technology right here in Indiana,” he said.

Pence, however, noted a recent editorial in the New York Times about porcine epidemic diarrhea virus exemplifies the gap between farm producers and consumers.

“Education and outreach are enormously important priorities for the state of Indiana,” the former congressman stressed.

Citing new census statistics that show the Hoosier farming population is getting older and slightly decreasing, Pence emphasized the need to promote agriculture among students and increase vocational education opportunities.

“I believe the time has come to make career and vocational education a priority in every high school in the state of Indiana,” he said, garnering applause again. “I believe that will strengthen all of our economy, and it will strengthen our agricultural economy, as well.”

Pence, the 50th governor of Indiana, praised his predecessor, Mitch Daniels, who now is the president of Purdue University.

“Among the many great accomplishments of the 49th governor was the fact that the state of Indiana went from being an agricultural state to being a pro-agricultural state,” he said.

“Indiana is proud of our agricultural team on the farm. We believe that agriculture is an essential element of Indiana’s boundless economic future. And, on my watch, Indiana will remain a pro-agriculture state.”

Pence noted that the first bill he signed into law as governor delayed the implementation of new soil productivity factors until 2015, “a tax break for Hoosier farmers.”

The rating system is used to compare the productive potential of one soil type to the other for property tax purposes. The factors are based on corn production and average management techniques.

The Department of Local Government Finance and Purdue have been working together to develop new soil productivity factors and avoid the high increase that was predicted, somewhere close to 6 percent, Pence said.

“We are committed, as I believe all the members of the General Assembly are, of working toward a permanent solution to this issue in this session,” he said.

Pence also referenced Senate Bill 101, which now is being considered by lawmakers and would enhance criminal mischief and institutional criminal mischief trespass laws to include agricultural operations.

It would establish safeguards that protect property and proprietary farming techniques, as well as deter individuals from disrupting farming operations, while protecting First Amendment rights, he explained.