In the Governor Eric Holcomb administration which takes office next month, Ted McKinney will continue as Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. McKinney knows the incoming governor well, and continuity from the Pence years will be helpful for the ag department.
“I think he meant what he said at some of those campaign gatherings when he said let’s just keep going on what we’re doing, and I think there’s a big focus on jobs and economic development,” McKinney said. “In this incredible roll that Indiana is on in economic development, I think you yourselves have reported that ag is a big piece of that.”
As the new chapter begins in January, farmers move into another year of deep profitability challenges. To help McKinney says ISDA will be hot after economic development.
“Whether it’s growing our livestock sector, our food and ag processing sector, finished goods sector, there is opportunity and it is statewide, and we’re going to continue to do that. And then we’re going to continue working through that one commercial grain operation where there was a failure and get those farmers all paid from our indemnity fund. So we want to make sure we’re always treating our farmers right. this is a difficult time on the farm. This is year three going on four where it’s been some red ink, so whatever we can do to give a farmer a new market, an option of higher margin, we’re going to chase that aggressively.”
He told HAT new markets will need to come mostly through trade. For Hoosier farmers that’s new opportunities for outlets for the grain, livestock and poultry operations already in the state, and Indiana has a friend going to Washington who should be able to help.
“We’ve had discussions with many and will continue with Vice President-elect, soon to be Vice President Pence, and whatever we can do to lift up trade and thus lift prices, we’re going to be hot after it.”
McKinney says the Trump/Pence approach might be different when it comes to trade, but he is convinced they understand trade is vital to ag and are committed to it.
Ted McKinney has been one of many individuals named as a potential USDA Secretary nominee, but there remains no word on who that pick will be. Politico says VP-elect Pence, current Indiana governor, is expected to have a big say in the pick for Ag Secretary.