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
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
“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
“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
“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.