INDIANAPOLIS — Rural broadband connectivity continues to be a priority for Indiana Farm Bureau members.
The organization held a delegate session to determine policy positions for 2022. They also discussed climate change, carbon credits, renewable energy, public health and education.
In 2021, broadband was their No. 1 priority — and it’s likely to top the list next year.
“We had a lot of discussion about unserved and underserved areas,” said Randy Kron, INFB president. “Agriculture needs broadband for technology and also for our students. We want our kids to have the same opportunities as others, and they need good broadband.
“The legislature did pass $250 million in the Next Level Grants fund last session, but we have to figure out how to spread that around.”
Farm Bureau partnered with other organizations to conduct Wi-Fi speed tests.
Kron encouraged people across the state to visit www.infb.org/speedtest to do the test.
“Whether you have good or bad internet, we need you to take the test from your home’s Wi-Fi so we can map the state,” he said. “We want to know where the biggest needs are, to get the money where it’s needed most.”
The policy development process is a year-round process that starts at the county level.
“The next step is establishing policy priorities and engaging with legislators at the Statehouse to make sure agriculture has a seat at the table during the 2022 legislative session,” Kron said.
Delegates also discussed carbon markets. Carbon credit programs should be transparent and education should be available for farmers, they said.
The delegation agreed that wind and solar farm siting should be controlled at the local level.
“Much of the conversation centered around the support of local control at this year’s delegate session, specifically regarding wind and solar energy projects,” said Andy Tauer, INFB executive director of public policy.
“There also was a lot of discussion around the future of biofuels as more modes of transportation shift to electric. It poses the question of how Indiana agriculture will make sure biofuels are an integral part of Indiana’s energy strategy as the need for ethanol and biodiesel decreases.”
INFB members are supportive of ethanol, Kron said.
“We have 14 ethanol plants here in Indiana,” said Kron. “Forty percent of our corn in Indiana goes to an ethanol plant. They want to make sure there is support for biofuels. They want to try and maintain that market.”
Delegates voted for members who will represent INFB at the 2022 American Farm Bureau Federation Convention.
The AFBF Convention will be held in January in Atlanta. The chosen INFB delegates will be discussing policy positions for the national organization with representatives from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
Four county Farm Bureau presidents were elected as delegates for the AFBF Convention:
• Richard Kelley, Brown County.
• Tiffany Ludwig, Clay County.
• Lis McDonnell, Henry County.
• Jonathan Shannon, Montgomery County.
Kron encouraged members to reach out to legislators this fall.
“We need your help,” he said. “Make phone calls and emails to Indiana legislators to let them know issues you care about.”
More information about INFB’s policy process can be found at www.infb.org/public-policy/policydevelopment.