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Agribusiness Conference Touts Indiana As Possible 'Silicon Valley' Of Ag

Ben Loehrke

Agribusiness executives and researchers are describing Indiana as an area poised to become a global heavyweight in food-science research.

Elanco president Jeff Simmons says Indiana is building a roster of companies working on ways to boost food production to meet the needs of a world population projected to hit 10-billion in 35 years.

For instance, Simmons says, it’ll take a 60-percent increase in milk production to serve that many people.

Simmons told the inaugural Governor‘s Agriculture Conference in Indianapolis the number of companies in Indiana could grow to a tipping point that transforms the state into a Silicon Valley-like magnet for agriculture research.

He says that‘s already happened in Kansas City, Missouri, with two-thirds of the world‘s animal-health companies maintaining offices there because they need to be in contact with each other.

Purdue agriculture dean Jay Akridge says boosting production will require collaboration. He says Purdue‘s agriculture college is seeing an increasing amount of interdisciplinary work with engineers, geneticists and other researchers on campus.

And Simmons says there‘s a public relations component as well. He says companies need to get the message out about genetic modification and other techniques that boost production, to compete with what he characterizes as a tiny but vocal number of activist opponents.