Among the varied National Ag Day celebrations across Indiana Tuesday, one brought the new leader of the state’s agriculture department back to her home county. Gina Sheets is the director of Indiana State Department of Agriculture and she spoke at the Clinton County Farm Bureau’s Ag Day lunch at the Hal and Ty Brown farm. For her it was a special way to spend the day.
“Sometimes we forget the people around us because we get so busy with new things and new ideas and meeting new people, but not in Clinton County. They’re true friends, true supporters, and people who are passionate about agriculture.”
She says her home county is a leading agriculture county in Indiana in the corn, soybean and hog sectors, “and we even have people doing some diversified farming, organic farming, all natural farming; we have the world’s largest salty snack food operation (Frito-Lay) in Clinton County. We have some processing plants in Clinton County, and we do vegetable oil, so we are very diverse.”
Sheets cited many numbers Tuesday that drive home the importance of agriculture to the Indiana economy. But with the Pence administration focused on getting more Hoosiers working she said in the next four years their goal is to have 20,000 more jobs in agriculture. How will they get there?
“You know we have a lot of great partners. We work with IEDC to encourage them to go after food processors. When we have producers that are telling us ‘a lot of my product goes to another state because they’re buying it and they process it into this type of food,’ I’m thinking why are we sending it all the way out there to bring it back here? So those are the types of businesses that we’re going to start working on.”
Farmer and U.S. Congressman Marlin Stutzman added a National Ag Day request of all Hoosiers to celebrate the men and women who make up Indiana agriculture.
“By putting in the long hours, making the tough decisions, and seeing the job done, Indiana’s farmers live out the values that make our state great—hard work, integrity, and commitment to families and communities. Hoosier farmers should be proud that their work not only underpins our state’s economy but also supplies the global market with safe, affordable crops and commodities. On National Agriculture Day, I encourage Hoosiers from every sector to celebrate Indiana agriculture and the hardworking men and women on family farms across the state.”