For the past 23 years, Bob Kraft has been the chief lobbyist for Indiana Farm Bureau the Statehouse. This week Kraft is ending his career. Indiana agriculture was a lot different in 1990 when Kraft first took over as the Public Policy Director for Indiana Farm Bureau. Over the years, he has been the face and voice of agriculture at the state capitol. He told me that over the past 23 years agriculture has grown in influence and political clout with state lawmakers, “The biggest change I have seen is that today most members of both parties in both the House and Senate view agriculture as an integral part of the Indiana business economy.”
Kraft counts among his proudest accomplishments the passing of the corn checkoff, the establishment of the Indiana Department of Agriculture, and the elimination of the inheritance tax, “While it did not get a lot of attention, the elimination of the inheritance tax is a significant help to farmers and business owners who want to pass on their farm or business to the next generation.”
During his tenure, Kraft has found himself in the middle of some major political battles. He noted that the change to daylight savings time was one of these and was an issue in which Farm Bureau played a major role. He stated it would not have happened without Farm Bureau support, “Once Farm Bureau changed its position because we saw a benefit to our members, then state law changed.” He said that is an example of how the grassroots Farm Bureau process works to change state laws.
Kraft noted that the establishment of a Political Action Committee, Farm Bureau Elect, has also given Farm Bureau a great deal of political influence. In addition, farmer participation in lobbying efforts has grown over the years. Today almost every week that the legislature is in session there are delegations from County Farm Bureaus at the Statehouse visiting with lawmakers.
As for the biggest challenge in the future, Kraft sees that funding for ag and rural interests will continue to be a challenge, “Urban areas have more votes, and they are always going to demanding more funding.” He said it will take hard work on the part of farm and rural interests to obtain their share of state resources.
Listen to the complete interview with Bob Kraft here.