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Skillman: Indiana pork key to economy
By DAVE BLOWER JR.
Farm World Editor

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Pork production remains a key plank to the future of Indiana’s farm economy, several Hoosier government officials told a relative small gathering of farmers during the Indiana Pork Producers Assoc.’s annual meeting last week.

Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman, Beth Bechdol of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Jennifer Greiner of the Indiana Board of Animal Health and Commissioner Tom Easterly of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management all voiced the significance of growing the state’s pork industry.

Skillman advised producers not to underestimate the power of international trade.

“International consumers are demanding our Indiana-produced agricultural products,” she said, referring to trade missions to Asia and Central America in 2005. “Trade is critical to our overall economic health, and the future of our agricultural commodity producers.”

Bechdol said the state’s strategic plan for agriculture - introduced last year - will likely be amended in 2006.

“This was not meant to be a written-in-stone type of plan,” she said. “It was intended to be a roadmap of where we want to go.”

The strategic plan calls for Indiana pork production to double.

“Unfortunately, I can’t preview for you any possible changes to that strategic plan,” Bechdol said. “I can tell you, though, that we have no intention of changing our strong focus on the expansion of pork.”

She said doubling the state’s pork inventory would simply replace what has been lost during the past two-plus decades.

“Our inventory has really been low,” Bechdol said. “We’ve had 24 years of straight decline. Regaining what was lost when hog production was shifting drastically to other areas of the country is a goal of the strategic plan.”

She said that keeping Indiana packing plants busy processing Indiana hogs will prevent those processors from needing to import hogs from other states. Bechdol said, though, Indiana must avoid some of the problems other states - most notably North Carolina - suffered while expanding their pork industry.

CAFO reports due
Annual reports for confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) are due Feb. 15.

As of Friday, only 63 of Indiana’s 307 CAFOs have sent their reports, said Dave Russell, IDEM’s agricultural liaison.

The two-page form requires general information such as the number of animals, amount of manure produced and acres available for application.

Easterly assured producers at the convention that the new leaders of IDEM has adopted an “assistance first, enforcement second” attitude. He said his agency hopes to accomplish this goal by helping farmers, businesses and municipalities with clear, predictable and quick decisions regarding environmental management questions.

“It has started as a culture change at IDEM, and it has been going very well - I think,” Easterly said. “Ultimately, we want everyone to be in compliance.”

Moss elected president
Monty Moss, of Burnettsville, Ind., was elected IPPA president at the meeting.

Other officers elected were: President-elect, Mike Lewis, Greenfield; and Jeff Harker, DVM, Frankfort, vice president. New IPPA board members elected were: Randy Curless, Wabash; Joe Hohl, Delphi; and Mark York, Roann.

Moss and his brother, Mark, own and operate Moss Farms Inc. They have a 1,200 sow farrow-to-finish operation and farm 850 acres of corn and soybeans. He practiced as a large animal veterinarian in Iowa, Indiana and New York before returning to the farm in 1987.

Berry, Swisher honored
The IPPA honored two industry supporters with the Meritorious Service Award. Putnam County’s Keith Berry received the Producer Meritorious Award, and John Swisher received the Industry Meritorious Award.

Berry was president of the National Pork Producers Council in 2004 and has served as a delegate to the Pork Industry Forum annual policy meeting for several years.

Swisher, of Sheridan, Ind., is the founder and chairman of JBS United - formerly known as United Feeds.

This farm news was published in the February 8, 2006 issue of Farm World.

2/8/2006