INFB’s 2023 priorities include rural viability, energy, taxes, and food security
Indiana Farm Bureau will focus on rural viability, energy, taxes, and food security in the upcoming 2023 legislative session.
Andy Tauer is the executive director of public policy.
“The Indiana Farm Bureau Board of Directors recently approved their policy focus areas for the 2023 statehouse session. Very similar to keeping with the theme from last year, (INFB) will be focusing on rural viability, energy, and taxes. The board decided to add a new policy priority this year and that was food security. Our members and the team will focus on these topics at the statehouse this session.”
Rural viability will focus on working with members in rural communities to address challenges including the need for increased workforce development and improved rural public health.
“Rural viability rises to the top for us easily because if you think about where the bulk of our members are and where they work and do business, it’s rural communities,” he says. “If you look back to the 2020 Ag Census, we saw a lot of migration out of rural communities so a lot of focus will be around tax income, how do we continue to pay for the services in rural communities, and workforce development because we need a good workforce, so people want to come back to those rural communities. One of the things highlighted in the Governor’s Public Health Commission was the lack of high-quality public health systems in rural communities. Those will be some of the things we’ll look at in the bigger bucket of rural viability. The whole approach is how do we keep those rural communities viable, so it creates a great place for our members and others to want to work, live, and play in rural Indiana.”
Taur says Indiana Farm Bureau established an energy policy advisory group last year to dig into energy topics. And, during the 2022 legislative session, carbon sequestration was one of the more contested topics, with INFB and others working to protect landowner subsurface property rights.
“We’ll continue to monitor that going into this session,” he says. “We’ll look for other opportunities to expand and diversify Indiana’s energy portfolio. We also have to have reliability and affordability directly connected to those. That’s in terms of whether it’s energy generation, i.e. electric, or we have the fuels component here in Indiana that’s so strong between our biofuels industry and we have an oil company in CountryMark. So how do we find that balance for affordable, reliable energy in the state of Indiana.”
Because 2023 is a budget session, Tauer says taxes in the budget are a priority area for Indiana Farm Bureau.
“We’ll be working with a lot of our state agency partners – the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Purdue Extension, and the Board of Animal Health – trying to support them in some of their budget asks,” he says. “…we’ll help our members and some of our partners wade through where we think we can get some additional funding requests to move forward. Again trying to figure out how do we thread that needle so we’re doing the right things with our taxpayer’s money.”
Food security is another priority as agriculture faces pressure from urban and suburban sprawl, federal rules on greenhouse gas emissions, and more.
Tauer says the focus will be on keeping members farming for the next generation.
“(We’ll be) looking at opportunities that we can then help ensure highly productive farmland continues to be farmed to grow the food we need not only for citizens in Indiana, but also globally,” he says. “We also want to make sure we have that environment that when we look at farmland, it’s seen as the highest, best use of that land and not considered for development.”
Tauer says policy priorities have been in the works for awhile. County farm bureau boards started policy development conversations last winter and submitted recommendations to policy advisory committees comprised of subject matter experts from the membership. From there, the recommendations were funneled through the resolution committee before going before more than 230 INFB Delegates in August.
Tauer says delegates adopt policy, and then the board of directors identified the key issues that INFB members and staff will focus on at the Statehouse.
The 2023 session of the Indiana General Assembly begins in January. INFB members will continue to meet with legislators to advocate for these policy priorities.
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Audio: Andy Tauer