Now that the 2023 Indiana General Assembly is over, your state lawmakers passed several bills this year that have a direct impact on Indiana farmers and the state’s ag industry.
“There were a number of successes for agriculture,” says Randy Kron, President of Indiana Farm Bureau. The ag association pushed your lawmakers this year for more funding for several state ag agencies as part of the 2023 budget bill—including the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and Purdue Extension.
“The other one was the Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency, which received a line item in appropriations of $600,000 so they could add some staff,” according to Kron. “Right now, the staffing level that they have would not allow them to do audits each year of every elevator. They just didn’t have enough help to get around and do it, so that’s going to help make sure elevators are solvent and in good shape.”
Additional fiscal priorities included into the budget bill (HEA 1001) supported by Indiana Farm Bureau included:
- A major increase for the Clean Water Indiana program at $6 million per year.
- Restored Career Technical Education as a categorical grant.
- An increase in public health funding as requested by the Governor’s Public Health Commission, including $225 million that will prioritize rural local public health departments.
Kron also thanks Indiana lawmakers for passing a bill (SEA 419) which clears up the confusion on a sales tax exemption for farm equipment.
“You buy something from your dealer, and you think it is sales tax exempt, like a Bush Hog. The Indiana Department of Revenue quite often will ask you, ‘Do you mow roadsides with it?’ If you say yes, that’s not considered direct production of agriculture—so, if you mow roadsides half the time, you pay half the sales tax. This bill said that if it’s predominantly used over 50% for agriculture, you’re not paying the sales tax on it,” says Kron.
Other bills supported by Indiana Farm Bureau include:
- House Enrolled Act 1557 – Rep. Kendell Culp’s bill directs the State Department of Agriculture to conduct an inventory of farmland lost in Indiana from 2010 to 2022.
- House Enrolled Act 1132 – Rep. Culp’s companion bill to HEA1557 would create a Land Use Task Force to dive more deeply into growth trends in rural, urban and suburban communities, as well as how they can better position themselves to attract economic development and protect prime farmland.
- House Enrolled Act 1454 – The Department of Local Government Finance bill helps taxpayers filing assessment appeals, adds tools to fund local EMS and creates more transparency on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district reporting. It also requires monitoring on residential TIF.
- Senate Enrolled Act 325 – Updates the homestead standard deduction and gives more flexibility on detached buildings.
Even though Indiana Farm Bureau tried to kill a bill (SEA 451) regarding a carbon sequestration pilot project in Vigo and Vermillion Counties, Kron says there was a compromise in the legislation that passed the Indiana House and Senate.
“In its original form, we were strongly opposed to it because of the property rights issues,” says Kron. “The revised bill mandates an annual compensation to those landowners for the pore space. This will be an annual payment somewhere around $100 per acre per year. But, if landowners feel like it’s worth more, they can go to court with it allowed for that, which also wasn’t part of the original legislation.”
Now that the 2023 legislative session is over, Kron says work begins now on policy discussions for the 2024 session.
“I’m pretty proud of the way we do our policy and it does truly start at the local county level,” says Kron. “If there are issues impacting our members, I would encourage them to contact their local county Farm Bureau office. I think that the more debate and discussion we have, it gets us in a better place for our policy positions.”
Click below to hear C.J. Miller’s radio news story for Hoosier Ag Today.