Indiana agriculture was center stage at the State Capitol on Tuesday for the beginning of a month long celebration. Indiana state officials, legislators, and farm group leaders gathered for the kickoff of agriculture month here in the Hoosier State. Governor Pence stopped by to praise farmers for the contributions they make to our state, “I want to thank all the farm families of Indiana for the contribution they make to our state and its economy.” Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Agriculture Sue Ellspermann told the gathering agriculture is at the core of what it means to be a Hoosier, “There are two things that really define a Hoosier: basketball and agriculture.” She joked that is why March is celebrated as Agriculture Appreciation Month.
In her remarks, she talked about the state’s ag production but stressed the economic contribution ag makes to Indiana, “Our 63,000 farms contribute $26 billion to our state economy.” She urged those in attendance to share the story of agriculture with non-farm Hoosiers, “It is important that we tell the story of Indiana agriculture to those outside of our industry.”
The Governor and Lt. Governor also announced the winners of an agricultural essay contest, sponsored by Indiana Family of Farmers and the Indiana Humanities Council. More than 500 entered the 2013 Ag Essay Contest. The final six winners were recognized at a presentation during the Statehouse reception. The students were instructed to Describe how Indiana farmers nourish 1) our families, 2) our animals, and 3) our earth (soil). Please provide an example from each of the three areas. For a list of winners and their essays go to www.indianafamilyoffarmers.com.
Other highlights of the event were 10 food trucks that parked outside the Statehouse serving lunch to government workers. Many of the trucks work with area growers to get fresh products. In addition, state FFA president Cameron Mann read the official Ag Month proclamation, signed by Governor Pence. Ellspermann, Ag Committee Chairmen Senator Carlin Yoder, Representative Don Lehe, and Indiana Agriculture Director Gina Sheets also received a traditional “ag basket” from four Hoosier farmers. The baskets, which also included Indiana Humanities’ book Food for Thought: An Indiana Harvest, represent Indiana’s agricultural bounty. Informational displays from Indiana’s top farm and commodity organizations filled the north atrium of the State Capitol on Tuesday.