Indiana presents state agriculture roadmap

By Hope Deutscher | June 03, 2009
Report posted June 26, 2009, at 1:31 p.m. CST

Indiana Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman presented what she called a roadmap to continue the growth of the state's agriculture industry on June 25. The announcement was made at Kelsay Dairy, a six-generation dairy farm in rural Johnson County, Ind.

The roadmap, which will guide the Indiana State Department of Agriculture over the next four years, is an update to the state's strategic plan.

Indiana has seen more than $4 billion in investments and 4,000 jobs in food and agriculture added to the state since 2005. State leaders want Indiana to be a global leader in innovation and commercialization of food, fuel and fiber production. In order to accomplish that, the ag department will focus on advocacy, economic opportunity and environmental stewardship.

Skillman serves as Indiana's Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. "Gov. Daniels and I are deeply committed to growth in Indiana agriculture," she said. "From ethanol to food processing to hardwood furniture, agriculture is an industry that touches each and every Hoosier each and every day. We believe that the possibilities for Indiana agriculture are endless - and, with those possibilities come progress in the form of jobs, capital investment, and wealth for rural Indiana."

According to the state, since 2005, Indiana has risen to national leadership in biofuels production and distribution with the construction of 10 ethanol and five biodiesel plants as well as 129 public E85 fuel pumps. In 2009, Indiana corn-based ethanol plants are expected to produce approximately 600 million gallons of ethanol and 1.7 million tons of dried distillers grains, a byproduct which is sold as livestock feed. At current prices, state officials estimate the dried distillers grains is worth approximately $1.3 billion.

Looking ahead, bioenergy holds great promise in Indiana, state officials said. Federal policy may create new opportunity for energy derived from cellulosic, wind and other agriculture resources. Regardless of legislative or regulatory policy, Indiana has a distinct advantage in bioenergy production and distribution due to its feedstock availability, transportation infrastructure and proximity to consumers.

"As we look ahead to the future, we see bright opportunity for Indiana agriculture in new markets like cellulosic ethanol and locally-grown foods coupled with great challenge in issues like hypoxia and climate change," said Anne Hazlett, Indiana Agriculture Director. "In both dynamics, however, there is a tremendous opportunity for Indiana to lead."

Click here to learn more about the ISDA Strategic Plan.