Helping community leaders understand the journey corn and soybeans take from farm to business was the goal of the recent “Follow the Grain Tour” sponsored by Indiana Corn Growers Association and Indiana Soybean Alliance’s Membership and Policy committee. On Sept. 29, economic development leaders from various state and local agencies attended the tour which provided attendees a clear picture of idea of how agriculture – from family-owned grain and livestock farms to food processing – can bring value to our local and state economies.
“The Follow the Grain Tour gave farmers like me a chance to show local civic and economic leaders the value that modern agriculture brings to our state and communities,” said Don Wyss, a corn and soybean farmer and ISA vice president. “Through traveling the path that grain takes from the farm to the end consumer product, tour attendees gained a firsthand knowledge of the countless ways that agriculture can build strong communities and local economies.”
The tour began at Prairie Farms located in Fort Wayne, Ind. and then traced the journey of corn and soybeans backward, from the food processing plant to a family farm. Tour attendees visited Kuenhert Dairy Farms and soybean processor Bunge North America, and then concluded at Wyss Family Farms, a family corn and soybean farm.
“At the Indiana Economic Development Association, we define economic development as ‘the facilitation of investment that leads to long-term community prosperity,’” said Lee Lewellen, executive director of the Indiana Economic Development Association. “Nothing fulfills that definition for Indiana better than 21st century agriculture. Many times, we talk about attracting technology and innovation to Indiana, but on the Follow the Grain Tour, we got to see that Indiana’s ag industry already embodies technology and innovation.”
The tour built off the conversation began at the Indiana Livestock, Forage & Grain Forum about the ways that livestock production, as well as corn and soybean farms, benefit rural communities. Annually, Indiana’s animal agriculture industry contributes $7.3 billion in economic output and provides more than 38,000 jobs for Hoosiers.
“Participating in the Follow the Grain Tour was a great opportunity to see the direct impact of farming on both the local and world economy,” said John Urbahns, Fort Wayne vice president of economic development. “Farming plays a much bigger role in supporting other local industries than most people realize. Without producing the raw goods in our community we wouldn’t have the opportunity to host many of the companies that call Indiana home.”