INDIANAPOLIS — Discussions at the annual Indiana Farm Bureau delegate session ranged from crop insurance to local annexation of farmland by cities and towns.

Representatives from counties across Indiana convened at the meeting to decide on policy views. After a day of discussing pressing agricultural issues, IFB announced its stance on several topics.

IFB delegates reaffirmed their support for eliminating direct payments in exchange for using the money to improve the crop insurance program.

They announced their support of keeping farm-related data confidential. They also agreed to support farm businesses of both small and large sizes.

“Surprisingly, the biggest topic of discussion was annexation by cities and towns,” said Don Villwock, IFB president. “Our members are quite concerned about cities trying to reach out and annex large areas of the land to increase their tax basis.”

Villwock said that these areas include not only homes and businesses, but, in many areas, farmland, as well. IFB delegates emphasized that they want to make sure a safeguard is in place to protect the rights of farmers.

“It’s a growing concern,” Villwock said. “One of our delegates said the city of Brownsburg was looking at annexing 5,000 to 8,000 acres, and much of that was prime farmland.

“We will be watchdogs of that process. We will not only watch that at a local level, but at the state Legislature, as well.”

Other highlights of the meeting included the reaffirmed support of crop insurance as the main safety net for farmers. Water supply was another key issue discussed at the meeting.

“Water policy is a growing concern,” Villwock said. “Some cities and towns are reaching out, trying to lock up water supplies. Our members are concerned and want to make sure farmers have access to adequate water to irrigate their crops and to provide water for their livestock, as well.”

All topics at the delegate meeting were submitted for discussion by members. Issues were open for debate and discussion before voting.

“Our strength is in our ability to stay together, so when we have all 92 counties agreeing on our policy, that makes us much stronger as we go to lobby at the statehouse or in D.C.,” Villwock said.