Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, speaks about the importance of the state’s agriculture industry during the recent Indiana Pork annual meeting.
Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, speaks about the importance of the state’s agriculture industry during the recent Indiana Pork annual meeting.
INDIANAPOLIS — During his first month as the new director of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, Ted McKinney has hit the ground running.

At the recent Indiana Pork annual meeting, McKinney addressed pork producers and leaders about his plans for agriculture and the pork industry in Indiana.

He said he took the job as director because he grew up with farming and feels now is the time to repay that history.

Now is a unique time in Indiana history, McKinney said, adding that the Hoosier state is viewed by others as one that can do business and get things done.

One of those areas where Indiana shines is in water quality and soil conservation.

There is a window of limited time to get issues concerning water quality right before what is happening on the coast and Chesapeake Bay, he stressed, catches up with Indiana agriculture.

Another bright spot of the agriculture industry in the state, McKinney said, is its youth organizations.

“Some states’ 4-H is not on an increase, but on a decline,” he said, adding that 4-H in Indiana is growing steadily.

Also setting record membership numbers is the Indiana FFA whose biggest limitation, the director said, is that there aren’t enough agriculture teachers.

McKinney said that in the 2014-2015 school year there will be 30 agriculture teacher openings throughout the state and only enough agriculture education majors graduating from Purdue to fill 10 spots.

The best way to lead the state’s agriculture industry, he said, is to take a common-sense approach and give a voice to the state government.

Whether it helps or hinders, McKinney said, he is going to introduce his colleagues, including the Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, to the Indiana agriculture industry.