A program to promote Indiana grown food products remains on the table and under wraps despite months of work. Launched over two years ago with much publicity, the Indiana Grown program had no staff and no funding and as a result went nowhere. Last August, Lt. Governor Ellspermann revived the program and appointed a 12 member commission to revamp it. After 7 months of work, ISDA director Ted McKinney said Indiana Grown is still not ready to bloom, “I think we are getting close as we dial in and try and finish up a business plan.” A meeting of the commission took place this week, but failed to produce a final report.
Part of the problem is the diversity of Indiana agriculture. The first commission meeting had most members wanting to move in different directions. McKinney says the commission has finally come together, “At the latest meeting, we went around the table and there was complete unanimity and that was exciting to see come together.”
But many key decisions have yet to be finalized, including what the program will be called and how much it will cost. McKinney refused to give a number or even a range of what the budget for the program might be except to say, “We do not want a large, cash-laden program.” He also stated that the current status of having no funds was not an option for the future.
The program is part of the governor’s budget, but must will be approved by the General Assembly. The question is: will the final plan be done before the legislature adjourns? “We hope to be able to talk about details in about 4 weeks, perhaps a little more,” said McKinney. He told HAT that the Governor’s office, Lt. Governor, and members of the General Assembly have been kept informed on the commission’s progress. Currently there are less than 20 Hoosier producers enrolled in the program.