INDIANAPOLIS — Even though all of the regulations, reforms and policies concerning farmers and the agriculture industry can seem overwhelming, it helps to know that Indiana representatives are working hard to make sure the voice of the Hoosier people are heard in the nation’s capitol.

During a recent agriculture policy forum held by Ice Miller LLP, Republican Reps. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana’s third congressional district and Susan Brooks of the fifth congressional district spoke to guests, as well as agribusiness leaders, about what the agriculture sector could expect when the Congress returned to work.

“It’s great to see an interest in ag,” said Stutzman, who has deep agriculture roots himself, adding that there is a lot going on in the industry right now and it is an exciting time for those involved with agriculture.

The congressman serves on the Committee on Financial Services and used to serve on the Committee on Agriculture.

He noted that when he traded his spot on the ag committee to be on the finance group, some farmers and others were curious as to how he came to that decision.

“Crop insurance and ag lending is all on the financial side,” he said, adding that since he has a background in agriculture, he joined the finance sector to make sure it was strong for agriculture.

Congress now is focusing on the challenges facing Syria, Stutzman said.

“It’s probably the hardest decision we will face in a long time. We don’t know what the ramifications will be,” he said, asking that Hoosiers keep him and Brooks, as well as their peers, in their thoughts and prayers as decisions are made on what to do and steps are taken to achieve those goals.

He added that after Congress reaches a decision on what to do, more than likely before they discuss the farm bill, the first two weeks be spent on the health care reform bill.

However, Stutzman noted with the deadline of the expiration date for the farm bill quickly approaching on Sept. 30, a decision will have to be made, even if it is to extend the current one.

Although it might take longer than expected, he said, he is optimistic that Congress will get a five-year farm bill passed.

A big topic of discussion when it comes to the farm bill, Stutzman shared, will be whether Congress decides to keep it divided into two separate bills — the farm bill and a food bill.

The congressman noted that he was a proponent of the original farm bill being separated into two for a number of reasons, mainly that 80 percent of the farm bill now deals with food stamps, which he believes is a symptom of the nation’s economy.

“Some people out there need help, but a single adult with no kids doesn’t need food stamps,” Stutzman stressed.

“I think we will get a better policy if we keep the two separate,” he said.