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Bauer releases agricultural initiatives amid harvest season

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend), ranking Democrat on the Indiana House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee today announced initiatives to support farm workers and the agricultural industry. 

“As Harvest Season continues, and on National Farmers Day, it is important to recognize the contributions of agriculture workers and enact policies that will support our state's rich agricultural resources and the people they serve,” Bauer said.

“Supporting agriculture and hard-working farmers is important to maintaining our state's economy and feeding the nation. Indiana is home to nearly 57,000 farms and over 94,000 farmers, with the agricultural industry contributing over $31 billion and more than 107,000 jobs to the state's economy.

“We are proud of the passage of House Enrolled Act 1283, which I co-authored in the 2021 legislative session. The new law provides support for agricultural zone development and educational and career opportunities in STEM and methods to address food insecurity in urban neighborhoods. This legislation will encourage development of urban farming, which will address some of the toughest socioeconomic and environmental issues facing our communities, including food deserts and blight.” 

“Hoosier agriculture workers deserve support. The following proposals can be done at the state level to promote Indiana’s agriculture industry.”

·       Farmland preservation: Protections should be in place that would allow generational farmers to remain on their land and continue farming in the face of expansion and development of our prime farmland of which Indiana has lost 265,500 acres of agricultural land from 2001 to 2016— over 17,000 acres annually.

·       Food supply chain: A recent study shows the COVID-19 pandemic cost Indiana food producers $500 million. Implementing policies that strengthen and protect the food supply chain and support farmers' bottom lines will ensure families across the country have access the vital resources.

·       Soil health investments and initiatives: Farmers should be supported when making investments in farming techniques that support soil conservation such as cover crops. These efforts address a changing environment and protect soil during floods and droughts while improving water quality 

·       Mental health support: The Indiana State Department of Agriculture recently announced a $500,000 grant to address mental health and identify farm stress. The hard-working agricultural industry faces unique economic and social challenges. We must ensure access to mental health resources is permanent for all Hoosiers.

“The Hoosier State has faced multiple crises that have been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Bauer added. “Support for our agricultural workers as it recovers from the impacts of the pandemic will ensure a strong economy, food access and healthy environment for generations to come.”

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