The Governor’s conference on Agriculture, held Friday, brought together farmers, agribusiness leaders, and state officials to examine how our state is preparing to meet the challenging future of food production. The goal of the daylong event was to examine how Indiana is preparing to become a global leader in food production innovation. Governor Pence promised that the state’s pro-growth policy toward agriculture will continue, “We are determined to continue to promote the kind of policies that will encourage innovation and keep Indiana at the forefront of the agricultural sector of this nation and the world.”
But, increasing global food demand along with the uncertainty of climate change will require farmers to make changes in how they farm and what they grow. Dean of the Purdue College of Agriculture Jay Akridge says Purdue is already working on new technology that will help Hoosier farmers meet these challenges, “We have researchers doing research in really hot areas of the world on corn, and those traits can be brought back to Indiana to help us grow corn in drought conditions.” In addition, Purdue is working on new crops that may soon fill Indiana fields, “Sorghum is a good example. We don’t grow a lot of it now, but it is an important crop in many parts of the world and may have a future here.” Akridge told HAT the Purdue Extension system is poised to help facilitate changes in farming practices as they are required.
Tim Hassinger, President of Dow AgroSciences, and Jeff Simmons, President of Elanco Animal Health, stressed that public and government support of this new technology will be critical to continued investment in innovation. Hassinger said it takes 10 years and over $100 million to bring a new crop trait to market. He stressed regulatory certainty will be needed to foster continued investment in innovation, “In the year 2000, there were 70 active ingredients in the research pipeline. In 2006, there were 30.”
Greg Page, Executive Chairman of Cargill, said Indiana has the resources needed to be a major force in world agriculture production and innovation, “You have a great river and lake system, and your central location lets you reach large population centers quickly. In short, uyou have some of the best soils in the world in the best location in the world.”
Managing those resources and fostering innovation will be the focus of a growing public-private partnership in the Hoosier State involving state government, farmers, Purdue University, and some of the largest agribusinesses in the world which are located in Indiana. Under the moniker “AgriNovus,” this partnership will strive to foster growth in the ag sector within the state, as well as providing resources to grow innovation within the agriculture and food production sectors. The conference ended, however, without a clear plan of action or next steps being articulated.