Directors of state departments of agriculture from around the Midwest are gathered in Indiana this week. The Midwest Association of State Departments of Agriculture brings the leaders of the Corn Belt states together to share ideas, issues, and problems. ISDA director Joe Kelsay told HAT that this is the first time in over a decade that Indiana has hosted this annual event, “This meeting helps us deal with common problems and share ideas on what has worked and not worked in other states with similar agriculture issues.” Kelsay said one of the top issues being discussed is how state departments of agriculture can not only regulate but also be advocates for agriculture, “I think it is a role we can play.” Kelsay said outreach opportunities like the State Fair allow State Government to help connect the dots for consumers between food and agriculture. Dale Rodman, Secretary of Agriculture in Kansas, said in his state, though agriculture is the largest industry in the state, there is a real lack of understanding among many consumers. Greg Ibach, Director of Agriculture in Nebraska, said even in many small towns people are far enough removed from the farm that they lack an understanding of agriculture.
Another issue that Indiana has in common with other states is promoting E-15; this is also a top priority for Illinois, according to Director Bob Flider. Improving transportation for farm products is a concern in Indiana as well as Minnesota, said Dave Fredrickson. All 12 MASDA directors were hosted for a lunch and roundtable discussion at the Joe Kelsay farm on Saturday. The event was sponsored by the Indiana Soybean Alliance. Sorth Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is the new president of the Midwest Association of State Departments of Agriculture. Goehring was elected Monday, during the group’s annual meeting in Indianapolis. He succeeds Joe Kelsay, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. “This is shaping up to be a very important year for American agriculture, especially in regard to the farm bill,” Goehring said. “I look forward to leading the discussion on policy issues significantly affecting Midwestern farmers and ranchers, including food safety and an increasing need for ag labor.” Also elected were Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, as vice-president, and Kansas Secretary of Agriculture Dale Rodman as secretary/treasurer. [audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/06/masdawrap.mp3|titles=State Ag Directors Discuss Common Problems]