Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Agriculture

August 30, 2013

Delegates support eliminating direct farm payments, controlling local annexations

INDIANAPOLIS – Earlier this week, Indiana Farm Bureau delegates approved policy in favor of limiting the ability of cities and towns to annex farm ground, and they also reaffirmed their support for significant changes in the federal farm program – specifically, eliminating direct payments in exchange for improving crop insurance.

During the delegate session, which was held Aug. 24 in Indianapolis and included representatives of county Farm Bureaus from across the state, the delegates also reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to supporting both crop and livestock farms of all sizes.

They also added policy in support of keeping farm-specific data confidential.

“Annexation is becoming more and more of an issue across the state as cities and towns are trying to expand their tax base,” explained IFB President Don Villwock. “The property tax caps have limited their incomes, they’re struggling to pay for police and fire and some of their basic necessities, so they’re trying to expand their assessed valuation.

“One of the ways they’re doing that is annexing ag land, and we don’t think that’s right. We want to make sure our farmers have a fighting chance to say whether or not they want to be annexed.”

On the federal farm bill, the delegates reaffirmed their support for doing away with all direct payments, using the dollars saved to improve the crop insurance program.

“I think Indiana and Midwestern farmers think it’s time for direct payments to go away, but we also reinforced that those dollar savings should shore up our crop insurance program,” Villwock said. “That’s very critical as we’re in the final hours of trying to pass a farm bill before the end of September.”

On the topic of data sharing, which is becoming a major issue for farmers, delegates voted to recommend changes to the American Farm Bureau Federation policy in support of legislation that would treat all farm-specific data as private property that is controlled by the farm owner/operator.

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