Indiana House Ag Committee Chair Don Lehe, a Republican from Brookston, has served 20 years in the Indiana House of Representatives. 2022 will be his final year at the statehouse. He says his primary focus over the course of the past 20 years has been on agriculture and issues facing rural communities.
Lehe reflected this week on some of the accomplishments for agriculture during his time representing Hoosier farmers.
“Over the years we’ve had issues with animal production, as you might know, the CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) issues, and we’ve done a pretty good job of allowing or promoting the production of animal agriculture by trying to stave off some of the anti-animal, anti-large pork production plants for example. So, we’ve, I think, done a pretty good job of promoting Indiana agriculture and allowing for Indiana farmers to do what they do best.”
The implementation of the Indiana corn checkoff was also a highlight of his political career.
Lehe is currently the only active farmer in the Indiana House or Senate. Is he concerned that agriculture will be left unrepresented after his departure? Not really. He says there are a lot of legislators that do have a farm background.
“So, they know the issues, very familiar with the issues. They’re just not out there every day (farming). So, yeah, when you first say, ‘Yeah there’s one active full-time farmer in the legislature,’ it sounds a little scary. But I’m not alone. We’ve got a lot of people that understand and support what we try to do and it’s worked out pretty well.”
Lehe’s work is not finished. While agriculture legislation is relatively light this session, there are a few bills impacting agriculture that he’d like to see get through. One of those came at the request of the state veterinarian to build a better relationship between the state board of animal health and the board of veterinary medicine.
“One of the comments that he has made in discussions is there are more animals in Indiana right now than in our history. So, you can see the importance of the veterinarian and livestock health issues.”
Another bill important to Lehe that he authored this year would provide additional revenue to fire territories to help fund their volunteer fire departments. See all of the bills Lehe has authored, co-authored, or sponsored this session here.