While 2015 certainly provided it challenges, ISDA director Ted McKinney says, overall, it was a good year for Hoosier agriculture. McKinney admits there were times in 2015 when it did not look like it was going to be a good year, “When the rains came in June and July, it sure did not look like it was going to be a good year. But, in the end, things turned out better than anticipated.” He admitted that for some Indiana farm families 2015 will be a year they will want to put behind them.
While crop production and crop prices are not where most producers would have liked, McKinney says several ISDA programs had great success this year, notably the Indiana Grown program, “We had high expectations, but we have exceeded those expectations.” He told HAT the program, which brands Indiana-produced products, has helped many producers get their products onto store shelves, “Both Marsh and Kroger are all in, and Meijer and Walmart are considering the program.” He added that the program is proving popular with both small and large farmers who are looking to diversify their production. Many Indiana restaurants are also using the program to source Indiana food products.
McKinney stated Indiana’s efforts to move Indiana farm products into the world market had success in 2015. As a result of a trade mission two years ago, “An Indiana popcorn company sold a large amount of popcorn to Taiwan.” He said several Indiana firms have made follow up visit to China after the Lt. Governor’s ag trade mission to China this summer.
This year also proved to be a record-setting year for Indiana FFA. “We hit a new record at the convention in June of 11,100 or so, and I think we’re on track to set a new record in 2016 as well,” said McKinney.
Early in 2015, ISDA announced a Dairy Strategy, designed to bring more dairy processing plants to the state. McKinney said, while no new plants have relocated yet, “We are very close and expect to get a breakthrough in 2016.” McKinney said an agricultural equipment manufacturer may also be locating to Indiana in 2016.