Indiana Agriculture Insider- ISDA's Monthly Newsletter

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Harvest Road Safety

With the start of harvest season, motorists should expect to see farm equipment from Indiana’s farms on roadways. Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT), and Indiana State Police (ISP) have teamed up to bring attention to the need for safety on Indiana’s rural roads.

“While motorists cruise the beautiful rural roadways of Indiana this fall, they should be aware of farm equipment using those roads during harvest season,” Lt. Governor Ellspermann said. “It is incredibly important to get this message out to ask all drivers to have patience and drive safely around slow-moving vehicles. I encourage all Hoosiers to be mindful and alert for farm equipment on roadways this harvest season.”

The following tips will help ensure the safety of motorists, passengers, and operators of slow moving equipment:

  • Farmers on roadways are going to or from work, just like many other people on the road.
  • Most farmers will pull over when they are able to let you pass, but it may take time for them to get to a safe place to do so. Be patient.
  • Farm equipment is wide, sometimes taking up most of the roadway. Be careful when passing. 
  • The red triangle on the back of an implement, farm machinery or other vehicle indicates a slow-moving vehicle (under 25 mph).
  • If you’re driving 55 mph and come upon a tractor that’s moving 15 mph, it only takes five seconds to close a gap the length of a football field between you and the tractor.
  • Do not try to pass a slow moving vehicle on the left without ensuring that the vehicle is not planning a left turn. It may appear that the driver is pulling over for you to pass when it is actually preparing to turn. You will drive right into its path, endangering yourself and the farmer.

“As our farmers are working to bring in this year’s crop, we want to remind all Hoosiers of farmers’ increased presence on the roadways,” ISDA Director Ted McKinney said. “We want to reinforce to motorists that these farmers have every right to use the roadway, too. Waiting a few minutes to safely pass or for the driver to pull over will not impact their drive substantially, and they will get to their destination unharmed.”

For more information about agriculture safety in Indiana, visit:


The Indiana State Police, Lt. Governor Ellspermann, & Indiana Farm Bureau President Don Villwock highlighted the importance of harvest road safety in this video.


A Snapshot Look Into Lake Erie

If you live in Northeast Indiana, chances are you heard about the Toledo water crisis that occurred in 2014. Unfortunately, water quality in Lake Erie has a bad reputation lately.  This article will provide some background information on why Lake Erie is stressed, the rehabilitation efforts of Indiana specifically, and the work we are doing with Michigan and Ohio.

lake erie

“Lake Erie is part of the Great Lakes System which contains around 20% of all the freshwater in the world. Of all the Great Lakes, Erie is exposed to the greatest stress from urbanization, industrialization and agriculture (Letterhos, 2007).” While Indiana does not directly touch Lake Erie, parts of DeKalb, Allen, Adams, Steuben, and Wells counties drain into Lake Erie through the St. Joseph, Maumee, St. Marys, and Auglaize rivers. Lake Erie is the smallest and shallowest of all the Great Lakes, as well as the warmest. The area draining into Lake Erie is dominated by agricultural and residential land use, while the other great lakes are surrounded by forestlands and riparian areas along rivers and streams. Given this mix of land use, there are many sources of nutrients and sediments that enter the Lake. 

Each summer, Lake Erie’s normal dark blue color gets mixed with swirls and swaths of vibrant green from algal blooms that spread throughout the shallower sections of the Lake.  This vibrant green color is a result of a population explosion of algae which is touched off by a combination of warm waters, sunshine and an abundant supply of nutrients.  In rural areas, agricultural runoff from fields can wash fertilizers into the water. “In urban areas, nutrient sources can include treated wastewaters from septic systems and sewage treatment plants, and urban storm water runoff that carry nonpoint-source pollutants such as lawn fertilizers (Hoyle, Lerner, Richmond 2015).”

Farmers and agriculture-focused agencies and industries are doing their part to address this challenge. The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) is working with the Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP) to help farmers voluntarily reduce nutrient and sediment loadings into our area streams, rivers, and lakes. According to the Natural Resource Conservation Services factsheet on the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB), some of the recent funding sources are:

  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) funding is helping famers install conservation practices that reduce nutrients entering bodies of water in the St. Joseph-Maumee, Upper Maumee, Auglaize and St. Mary’s watersheds through Fiscal Year 2016.
  • Through the GLRI Phosphorus Initiative, additional Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) funding is available to farmers in a targeted area within the basin to install sediment and nutrient reducing practices and other innovative conservation practices that control phosphorus, such as drainage water management, two stage ditches, blind inlets, and denitrifying bioreactors.
  • The Tri-State Western Lake Erie Basin (TWLEB) project was approved for funding through NRCS’s Regional Conservation Partnerships Programs (RCPP) in 2015. The multi-state, multi-partner project aims to protect the basin area by working directly with farmers to reduce phosphorus and sediment loading and harmful algal blooms with $17.5 million in NRCS cost-share dollars through EQIP and nearly $36 million in partner contributions.
  • An innovative Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) Section 319 grant is in process to provide assistance to farmers in areas of highest phosphorus loss risk.
  • Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the basin area own and rent conservation equipment. 
  • Clean Water Indiana grants are being utilized to provide cost-sharing to help farmers pay for gypsum and cover crops.
  • Conducting education events for farmers to learn how nutrients coming off their fields play a part in the algal blooms. Those events include field days, trips on Lake Erie, and educational workshops.            
lake erie

If you would like more information about Indiana’s Nutrient Reduction Strategy and conservation effort in Lake Erie, please visit


Letterhos, 2007

Hoyle, Lerner, Richmond 2015


Indiana Grown Offers New Markets for Producers

It is no secret that Indiana is one of the top farming states in the country with more 60,000 farms that grow, produce and process some of the highest-quality products in the nation. However, less than 10 percent of the $16 billion Hoosiers spend annually on food is sourced within Indiana. With locally made products at an all-time high,ISDA created and launched the Indiana Grown program.

Launched in summer 2015, the program aims to help Indiana farmers and producers have a greater market for their products, support Indiana processors in their efforts to process more Indiana Grown products and educate consumers on the importance of buying Indiana Grown products. 

Consumers can identify products by the following categories:

  • 100% Indiana—Products must be grown in Indiana and/or all ingredients must come from Indiana.
  • Prepared in Indiana—Product ingredients can be sourced from anywhere, but 100 percent of the production must come from Indiana.
  • Indiana Grown Partner—A company or institution must assist in marketing Indiana Grown products and members.
  • Indiana Grown—This category applies to all other Indiana Grown members.

Retailers including Marsh, Kroger and many other grocery stores are already using the Indiana Grown label on products and advertising materials. The Indiana Grown program had its first product selection show with Kroger grocery stores on June 26 and it was a huge success. More than 70 producers and farmers attended the show and each had a chance to meet with Kroger buyers and discuss their Indiana-made products. 


On September 10th Indiana Grown officially announced Marsh Supermarkets as a major in-store retail partner. The partnership launch included 50 kiosks selling 100 Indiana Grown products in Marsh stores throughout Indiana. 

ig marsh

Continuing on the path to success Indiana Grown had another retail launch with Kroger Stores on October 7th. All of Kroger’s 102 division stores throughout the state will feature Indiana Grown products including Kroger brand milk. The stores will also be equipped with product identification materials and overhead signage to help direct Hoosier shoppers to Indiana Grown products. Kroger currently displays Indiana Grown kiosks in five stores, supporting 21 Indiana Grown members and 110 products on each kiosk. Be on the lookout for future Indiana Grown events


Consumers can find more information about Indiana Grown’s 260 members by visiting There, you will also find blog posts, recipes, and where to find Indiana Grown items. To join, producers, processors and business owners can complete an online application at


Country of Origin Labeling

The dispute over Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) requirements dates back to when it was mandated in the 2002 Farm Bill followed by amendments to the program in the 2008 Farm Bill. The final rules were adopted in May 2009.  In short, several of our trading partners dislike the rules and see them as unfair and discriminatory restrictions on trade. 

In December 2008 Canada filed a request for consultation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) alleging that COOL isa violation of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement which ensures that regulations on products in trade are non-discriminatory.  The Agreement is further designed to provide for a predictable trade environment.  Mexico, China, and the European Union joined the complaint and the WTO has ruled against the United States every step of the way. Given these concerns in the international community there is now momentum in Congress for full repeal. 

Opponents of COOL argue it is unnecessary because it imposes additional regulations that do not improve food safety, but raise costs for consumers. On the other hand, those who support COOL argue consumers deserve to know the source of their food. A full repeal bill passed in the U.S. House on June 10, 2015 with a vote of 300-131. It is now in the Senate where Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts has been receptive to repeal or a fix of some kind noting in his June 25, 2015 committee hearing remarks that COOL has cost U.S. beef, pork and chicken sectors $1.8 billion in compliance costs with no measurable increase in demand for U.S. products.  Congress has a full plate this fall with a number of legislative issues pending. It is yet to be determined whether they will have the stomach to deal with COOL regulations.

Features In This Newsletter:

Harvest Road Safety

A Snapshot Look Into Lake Erie

Indiana Grown Offers New Markets for Producers

Country of Origin Labeling 


Key Dates:

October 14
Soil and Water Assessment Technology (SWAT) Conference, West Lafayette

October 21
Board for International Food and Agriculture Development (BIFAD) Fall Public Meeting, West Lafayette

October 22 
Dedication Ceremony for Haupert Institute for Agriculture Studies Huntington University, Huntington

October 28-31 
National FFA Convention, Louisville, Kentucky


ISDA in the News:

Kroger joins Indiana Grown Initiative

Coming to Marsh stores: Indiana-grown foods

McKinney: EPA Looking Closely at Ag

Indiana State Agencies Partner For Road Safety Message Ahead Of Harvest Season 

Honored for excellence in progressive farm practices


ISDA Photos:

ISDA Dir. Ted McKinney, Madison Spahn (State Jr. Leader Council member), Heidi Spahn (Dow AgroSciences Corporate Communications & Madison's mother), and Renee McKee, State 4-H Leader & Purdue staff member at the 2015 Indiana 4-H Congress
ted purdue
ISDA Dir. Ted McKinney attended the 2015 Purdue Ag Council Syngenta Organizational Leadership Workshop