Lt. Governor Becky Skillman has just a few weeks left in office. She sat down with Gary Truitt to talk about her role as Indiana’s first Secretary of Agriculture. Skillman says one of her accomplishments that she is the most proud of is establishing the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, “When the Governor and I were on the campaign trail, we heard a lot about the need for a state department of agriculture. Because we have such a strong heritage and such strong economic activity from agriculture we both decided it was time to create the state department of agriculture.” She added that looking back over the past 8 years, she can see how ISDA has helped Indiana and Indiana agriculture weather some tough times, “I see ISDA as doing a great deal to maintain our state’s solid foundation especially during the toughest of economic times.”
Those tough economic times plagued the second term of the Daniels/Skillman administration, but the groundwork that had been laid kept the stat’s farm economy humming helping to balance the downturn in the rest of Indiana’s economy. ISDA was also instrumental in helping the state deal with floods in 2008 when 82 Indiana’s counties were declared disasters and the drought of 2012 when all 92 counties were impacted.
Another major accomplishment of the Skillman tenure is the development of the biofuel industry in our state, “Not only was it the right thing to do at the right time, but it was a lot of fun.” She smiled when she recalled first getting a flex fuel Tahoe vehicle with a special corn wrap promoting ethanol, “I would get a lot of questions from the public about ethanol — where they could get it and if it was good for Indiana.” When she first took office there was only 1 facility producing ethanol in Indiana, today there are 13. In addition, over 150 Hoosier communities have locations where motorists can purchase e-85 fuel. Indiana is the 6th largest ethanol-producing state in the nation, producing 7% of the nation’s supply.
Skillman will also be remembered for putting Indiana agriculture on the international trade map. Her many trips to Asia and Central America opened many new market opportunities for Indiana farms and agribusinesses. These trade missions produced new business for the state, helped build international relationships, and generated some humorous memories for Skillman. She laughs when recalling getting fitted for a bullet proof vest during a trip to Mexico.
What’s next for Becky Skillman and her advice for the new Lt. Governor in our next report.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/Finalskillman1.mp3|titles=Skillman Looks Back on Accomplishments]Listen to the complete interview with Becky Skillman here.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/12/Last-Skillman-interview.mp3|titles=Listen to the complete interview with Becky Skillman ]