Remember when you were in grade school and the class had a show and tell time? Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly recently underwent a show and tell session with a group of Hoosier growers on soil conservation, cover crops, and water quality. The location was Jack Maloney’s Little Ireland farm in Hendricks County. The purpose was to give the Senator a first-hand look at what farmers do to conserve soil, improve soil health, and protect the water supply. Included were demonstrations of gypsum in the soil, cover crops, soil sampling, testing, and ground water monitoring. Donnelly, a member of the Senate Ag Committee, said he came away with a great appreciation of how farmers are taking steps to protect the environment, “The more we can expand these programs and practices, the better off we will be as a country. They help provide cleaner water, carbon capture, increases yields, and reduces the use of chemicals.”
The farm is located in the Eagle Creek Watershed which provides drinking water to Indianapolis. Donnelly said these parties are providing some real world solutions to some of our challenging environmental issues, “One of the most important things we can do, if we want to reduce carbon in the atmosphere and produce cleaner water, is empower our farmers to do the things they do really really well.” He added the government needs to get out of their way and provide them with the tools they need to do their jobs.
Donnelly praised the work that Indiana farmers are doing across the state to address these environmental issues and said Washington regulators need to do more listening to what is being done rather than handing down mandates and regulations, “When you work with farmers, they will be with you every step of the way; but when you beat them over the head with a hammer and try and tell them what to do, you are not going to have much luck.” Donnelly promised to take this message to Washington as work begins on a new Farm Bill in 2017.
While the Senator as at the farm, he was presented with the Friend of Farm Bureau award by Indiana Farm Bureau. According to IFB, Donnelly aligned with AFBF on several priority issues in the 114th Congress, including opposition to the EPA’s ill-conceived Waters of the U.S. rule. He played a significant leadership role in the development of the biotechnology labeling bill and then worked tirelessly to secure its passage. Donnelly also continues to be a strong proponent of the Renewable Fuel Standard and America’s energy independence.