Indiana Agriculture Insider

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A look back at Indiana conservation

Indiana is well-known as a conservation leader, which is in part due to the strong collaboration that exists between Indiana’s conservation partners. That was realized this week as conservationists from all across the state came together and filled the Indianapolis Downtown Marriott for the 74th Annual Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) Conference. This year’s theme was #VIP: Vision, Innovation and Partnership, and was a great opportunity for Indiana’s conservation partners to gain knowledge, share ideas, network and leave invigorated with a renewed vision for the future.

However, this incredible partnership and becoming a conservation leader didn’t happen overnight. In fact, did you know that Indiana’s first conservation district was established in 1940 in Vanderburgh County? Back then, though, they were just called Soil Conservation Districts (“water” was later added to their names in the early 1960s).

Conservation districts


At that time, landowners had to petition to create SWCDs in their respective counties, a process modeled after federal legislation under President Roosevelt’s administration. Indiana’s district law also established the State Soil and Water Conservation Committee, now called the State Soil Conservation Board, to oversee all SWCDs in the state.

Most of these districts were established between 1945 and 1960; however, it wasn’t until 1974, when Tipton County officially joined the ranks, that districts had been established in all 92 counties – an exciting time in Indiana history.

Indiana conservation legislation

Between the 1940s–1970s, as the conservation movement was really starting to take shape, the districts were mainly focused on recruiting landowners to become district cooperators. In doing so, the Soil Conservation Service, now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service, could work with them to develop conservation plans for reducing erosion and improving their land’s productive capacity. These plans primarily included crop rotations, structural erosion control practices, drainage improvements and liming. 

Fast forward a decade, the focus started to shift and became geared more towards helping landowners find ways to reduce runoff and off-site impacts of sediment. This focus was realized in a statewide strategy, known as T by 2000, launched under Governor Bob Orr’s administration. The strategy was developed over the course of two years, with considerable support from a variety of organizations, and sought to reduce erosion on each acre of land to its tolerable limit (T) or below and have all off-site sedimentation controlled by application of best practical technology – all by the year 2000, which is how the strategy got its name.


Indiana conservation


Today, SWCDs continue to help Indiana residents to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and related natural resources that encompass our state's 23 million acres. As in the past, their mission is to coordinate assistance from available sources – public and private, local, state and federal – in an effort to develop locally driven solutions to natural resource concerns.

Indiana's 92 SWCD supervisors represent over 450 volunteers across the state serving in elected or appointed positions on governing boards. In fact, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, served on the board in Vanderburgh County.



Moving forward, the future of conservation in Indiana is bright and the potential of local districts is unlimited thanks to the commitment from elected officials, individuals and due to continued support for Indiana conservation and our 92 SWCDs.

To learn more about Indiana's conservation districts, please visit



Fantastic Food Fest grows in second year

Indiana Grown vendors, celebrity chefs, exciting culinary events and great weather brought close to 10,000 consumers to the second annual Fantastic Food Fest at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.

Indiana Grown

Nearly 50 Indiana Grown members were on hand to showcase their great products and share their story with enthusiastic customers – many of which attended the first Fantastic Food Fest. Members also got the chance to connect with retailers, restaurants and catering partners.

In addition to shopping, the Fest also featured demonstrations, cooking classes, workshops, competitions and presentations from local and celebrity chefs, like Alex Guarnaschelli and Loreal Gavin, and as an exciting new addition this year, many of these events featured recipes using Indiana Grown member products. 

Indiana Grown


ISDA staff members were also on hand both days and met with the Indiana Grown producers and members of the public to share information about the program. On many occasions, consumers said they loved the idea of purchasing locally made products and enjoyed connecting with Indiana Grown members.

Planning has already begun for next year’s Fantastic Food Fest and dates for the third annual event will be posted in the future to


February 4
Ag Alumni Fish Fry - Indiana State Fairgrounds

February 7
Indiana Grown Day - Indiana Statehouse 

February 16
State Fair Commission meeting - Indiana State Fairgrounds

February 20
FFA Page Day - Indiana Statehouse

February 24
Indiana Grown Commission meeting


Century/Half Century Awards

Has your agribusiness been operating for more than 50 or 100 years? If so, you can apply now for Governor Eric Holcomb's Century and Half Century Business awards, which honor long running Hoosier businesses. Applications are due by Feb. 10 and can be submitted here.


Foodies flock to Fantastic Food Fest

CDL changes provide greater flexibility for ag businesses

GCSWCD celebrates 75 years at annual meeting

Two Local Agencies Earn Grants To Support Indiana Agriculture

New lt. gov. promises to seek answers

Ag looks to new year

Soil & Water Conservation District annual meeting 


Upland Brewing Company

Upland Brewing Company


Upland Brewery offers tours and tastings that let visitors go behind the scenes to learn more about how their brews are made. The Wood Shop is the state-of- the-art production facility and tasting room where Upland’s sour beers are brewed, wood aged and bottled. Here, beer lovers can take a tour to learn how these innovative beers are made and sample some of their 10 sour beers on tap—many of which aren’t available anywhere else. Plus, enjoy Upland favorites like Wheat Ale, Champagne Velvet, Dragonfly IPA as well as a few exclusive, small batch beers.


Beef Stew with Dark Beer Gravy

Beef stew


4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 1/2 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces 
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of black pepper
2 tsps canola oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
1 can dark beer 
1/4 cup tomato paste 
1 tsp dried thyme 
3 carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 cup unsweetened apple juice 


Season beef chuck cubes with 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. Heat canola oil in skillet.  Using high heat, brown beef pieces in the hot fat on all sides until browned, about 5 minutes. Place beef in stew pot with bacon, leaving oil in skillet. Turn heat down to medium; cook and stir onions in the skillet until lightly browned (about 5 minutes).

Cook garlic with onions until soft, about 1 minute.  Pour beer into skillet and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up and dissolving any browned bits of food into the liquid. Pour cooking liquid from skillet into the stew pot. Stir in tomato paste, thyme, carrots, celery, black pepper, beef broth, and apple juice to cover.

Bring stew to a gentle simmer, stirring to combine; reduce heat to low and cover pot. Simmer stew until beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Stir stew occasionally.

Remove cover and raise heat to medium-high. Bring stew to a low boil and cook until stew has slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.


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