After weeks of speculation, Governor Pence announced the new Director of the State Department of Agriculture. Gina Sheets is no stranger to agriculture or to ISDA, having served as economic development director at ISDA for the past several years. In making the announcement, Governor Pence said his goal is to continue the work of ISDA which was started by the Daniels administration, “Part of the legacy of the previous administration was that, not only did they acknowledge the important role of agriculture, but to embrace it.” Pence said that, during the recession, it was agriculture that sustained the economies of many Hoosier communities. Prior to joining state government in 2009, Sheets served as Economic Development Director and CEO of the Clinton County Chamber of Commerce, Director of the Frankfort Urban Enterprise Association, and Director of the Clinton County Economic Advancement Foundation.
Lt. Governor Ellspermann said Sheet’s first task will be to develop a plan to take Indiana agriculture from good to great, “Growing the opportunities for agriculture — economic development and particularly the food and agriculture innovation corridor. Gina’s economic background will come in handy as she works with IEDC and others to move this project forward.” Ellspermann said, in addition to economic development, Sheets will be involved in fixing the farmland property tax formula as well as being an advocate for Hoosier agriculture. The Governor has challenged all his department heads to develop a specific plan of action within the next 30 days.
Sheets, a Clinton County native, told HAT she is ready to get to work, “Well, I already know where the coffee pot is and where the important files are.” She said already knowing the industry and farm groups and agribusinesses will help her get things moving much faster, “We have a great team in place and that will help to grow Indiana agriculture.” One of Sheet’s first tasks will be to fill in some of the members of that team. There are several vacant positions at ISDA that need to be filled quickly.
Sheets and her husband Travis own a farm in Clinton County where they raise pasture poultry, free range hens, pasture beef, rainbow trout, and a variety of produce. Sheets graduated from Stanislaus State University (CA) and the University of Oklahoma Economic Development Institute.
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