Indiana Agriculture Insider- ISDA's Monthly Newsletter

November 2015 Issue

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National FFA Convention

3,972 Indiana FFA members and guests attended the 88th National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky from October 28 – 31. During the convention, members competed in various career development events, proficiencies, and attended sessions. Throughout the sessions, members heard from keynote speakers, saw awards be presented, recognized sponsors, and listened to the National FFA Officers' retiring addresses. Additionally, students were able to partake in leadership workshops, shop the FFA mall, visit with various companies and universities in the Expo, and go on agriculturally related tours. 

The Indiana State FFA Officers also served as convention delegates, helping make important decisions related to the future of the organization. Indiana’s National Officer Candidate, Kathleen Jacobs, represented Indiana with great pride advancing to the final round of interviews. The convention theme this year was Amplify and Indiana FFA members were truly able to do just that.




Indiana FFA members were extremely successful during this year’s convention. The following are some highlights of their achievements. 

  • 87 Indiana members received their American FFA Degree – the highest degree available.
  • 31 individuals participated with 21 projects in the Agriscience Fair

-8 Gold ranked projects, 10 Silver ranked projects, and 3 Bronze ranked projects.

-National Winner in Power, Structure, and Technical Systems, Division 1 from DeKalb FFA – Brooke-Destinee Lockwood.

-3rd place winner in Power, Structure, and Technical Systems, Division 3 from South Putnam FFA – Josias Robinson and Ryan Cole.

  • 13 National Proficiency Finalists

-3 First Place Winners

-Ryan Lewis from Prairie Heights FFA in Diversified Agricultural Production.

-Derek Neuhoff from Southridge FFA in Diversified Crop Production – Placement.

-Sam Shaver from Southmont FFA in Outdoor Recreation.

  • Over 78 members participated in 22 National Career Development Events.

-6 Gold ranked events, 11 Silver ranked events, 6 Bronze ranked events.

-1st Place – Extemporaneous Public Speaking – Annalee Witte from Eastern Hancock FFA.

-3rd Place – Dairy Evaluation – North Miami FFA

-3rd Place – Livestock Evaluation – Fairfield FFA

-6th Place – Job Interview – Kayleigh Crane from Hamilton Southeastern FFA

-8th Place – Agricultural Communication – Tri-County FFA

  • VIP Citation Award – Mark Timm
  • Honorary American Degrees – Roger Carr, Ron Noll, and Scott Jacobs
  • 4 chapters ranked as 2 Star Chapters.

-Columbia City FFA, Switzerland Co FFA, West Washington FFA, Southmont FFA.

  • 16 chapters ranked as 3 Star Chapters.

-Carroll @ Flora FFA, Carroll @ Ft. Wayne FFA, Caston FFA, Churubusco FFA, Clinton Central FFA, Cloverdale FFA, DeKalb FFA, Jay County FFA, Lewis Cass FFA, North Montgomery FFA, Owen Valley FFA, Prairie Heights FFA, Rossville FFA, Shenandoah FFA, and Woodlan FFA.


For a full list of Indiana’s results from the 2015 National FFA Convention, please click here


GMO Labeling

While the latest controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMO) has sprung up over some states’ interest in a GMO labeling mandate, the practice of genetically modifying or engineering crops has been around for thousands of years.  Early farmers crossed different breeds of corn to produce a variety of colors, sizes, and uses.  Science has advanced, improving our ability to be more precise in targeting and eliminating bad traits in food. Recently, two new apple varieties have been genetically engineered to slow browning that occurs after being cut or bruised.  Engineering crops in order to resist insect damage, fight disease, and produce better yields will be crucial to feeding a growing global population.

There is a growing movement for transparency as to which products contain and which companies sell GMOs.  Vermont passed the first GMO labeling law in the nation which would require producers and retailers to label genetically engineered products as such and prohibit them from calling those products ‘natural.’  There were two reactions to the passage of the Vermont legislation set to take effect summer 2016. First, a lawsuit was filed by a group of trade associations seeking injunction of the law pending litigation. The suit is now in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals which heard oral arguments on October 8th. The plaintiffs’ argument is twofold: the state law violates the First Amendment by compelling companies to express messages they would rather not. Furthermore, they contend that it infringes the federal government’s role in regulating interstate commerce.   The second reaction to the law was the introduction and passage of H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act, by a bipartisan vote of 275-150.  The bill would preempt state laws regarding GMO labeling providing for uniformity in commerce.  The bill is now in the Senate which had a hearing on October 21st to better understand the science behind genetic modification.

Opponents of H.R. 1599 say they have a right to know what’s in their food. Proponents of the law say that a patchwork of state laws will be unworkable and create additional costs to retailers in turn raising food costs for families.  In fact, a recent Cornell University study finds that state labeling laws could raise food costs nearly $500 annually for the average family. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for regulating GMO foods, continues to stand by their safety; however this controversy is likely to continue well beyond any current litigation and legislation.


Grain Indemnity Fund Collection

The Indiana Grain Indemnity Fund was created in 1995 to protect farmers in the event of a grain elevator failure.  When a farmer sells grain to a licensed buyer, a premium of two-tenths of a percent is withheld by the buyer and then remitted to the Grain Indemnity Fund.  If a failure occurs, these monies will be used to cover farmers for up to 100% of stored grain and up to 80% of other grain transactions at any licensed grain buyer.  If a farmer chooses to opt out of protection from the Fund, they may request a refund of monies withheld, but in doing so will not be covered for any commodity at any licensed facility.  They would receive a refund of the premiums paid, but they would forfeit coverage if an elevator were to fail.  By opting out, the forfeiture includes all crops at any grain buyer. 

Changes were made to the state law governing the Fund during the 2015 legislative session.  Since the creation of the Fund in 1995, facilities have grown larger and a catastrophic loss could deplete the existing Fund.  The agricultural community recognized the need to increase the Fund limits, and petitioned members of the General Assembly for consideration.  To prevent depletion of the Fund, the General Assembly increased the cap for the Fund to $25 million (as compared to the approximate current Fund level of $14 million).  Farmers have not contributed to the Fund since 1998.   


Collections began July 1st and remittances for the first quarter are at expected levels.  Throughout the first three months of collection, licensed grain buyers have remitted over $2 million.  Collections will continue until the $25 million mark is met by the beginning of the State fiscal year. 


Interested in exporting? ISDA can help

With nearly 95 percent of the world’s consumers and two thirds of the purchasing power located outside of the United States, expanding into the global marketplace provides Indiana farmers and businesses with more opportunities to grow their markets.

ISDA’s economic development team has a strong focus on international markets and can help Indiana businesses navigate the exporting process. Some activities staff can assist with include:

  • Determining the company’s readiness to expand into foreign markets
  • Market research
  • Understanding Regulations

ISDA is a member of the Food Export Association of the Midwest and the American Hardwood Export Council, two cooperator market development programs, and can guide producers and companies through the process of signing up as a member of these organizations.  

Food Export Midwest offers export education, market research and buyer’s missions. Additionally, The Branded Program provides 50 percent cost reimbursement of eligible international marketing activities for small companies, including website development, package and label modifications, advertising, public relations, and freight cost for samples.

The American Hardwood Council provides members with a 70 percent discount on trade show costs. Their promotional activities increase awareness of the many uses of American hardwoods.

The cost involved in exporting varies between companies and timelines are different depending on various factors. ISDA staff are able to assist in learning about costs involved in the process. Companies should consider marketing costs, fees, tariffs, travel cost to trade shows and other activities associated with the search to find buyers.

Additionally, ISDA staff can connect companies with trade shows and other opportunities to meet potential buyers.

To learn more about Indiana’s international trade and marketing opportunities, click here 

Features In This Newsletter:

National FFA Convention

GMO Labeling

Grain Indemnity Fund Collections

Interested in exporting? ISDA can help. 


Key Dates:

November 18
Indiana Seed Trade Association Fall Luncheon, Lafayette

November 23

ISPA Poultry Donation Announcement, Indianapolis

December 2
Indiana Grown appearance on Fox59, Indianapolis

December 3
Indiana Economic Development Association Annual Conference, Indianapolis


ISDA in the News:

5 Questions: Indiana Grown leader touts local produce

Panelists Discuss Food Security Issues at Purdue Conference

Japanese Delegation Touring Indiana Corn Farms

Indiana Grown partners with Kroger

Indiana farmers plowing less and saving top soil



ISDA Reminders

Indiana Organic Cost-Share Program Application - deadline December 1, 2015

Hoosier Homestead Award applications -deadline December 1, 2015

Bicentennial  Torch Relay Torchbearer Nominations - deadline January 31, 2016


ISDA Photos:


DirectorTed McKinney, Jordan Seger & Julie Harrold met with Congressman Carson & Senator Coats while in Washington D.C. for a Hypoxia Task Force meeting.


Director Ted McKinney and Connie Neininger attended Egg Innovations Organic Feed Mill Open House and Ribbon Cutting in Cromwell, IN. 


Indiana Grown Recipe of the Month:

Tuscany Potato Soup


Indiana Agritourism Destination of the Month:

The Apple Works in Trafalgar


Contact ISDA:

Indiana State Department of Agriculture 
One  North Capitol Avenue, Suite 600 
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317.232.1362 FAX