agriculture

Ben Loehrke / https://www.flickr.com/photos/benloehrke/

After more than a year of delays, the Environmental Protection Agency has released numbers for the Renewable Fuel Standard, or RFS—the amount of biofuel which must be to be blended into the nation’s gas supply —for the years 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The numbers are up, and that’s big news in Indiana, one of the largest ethanol-producing states in the nation.

Sarah Fentem / WBAA

Many roads in Indiana were originally known as “farm-to-market” highways—their primary purpose was to transport crops to city centers. That designation has been lost to history and now for farmers, something as short as a three-mile drive can be an ordeal.

During fall in America’s heartland, a person is almost guaranteed to see a combine.

Sometimes they’re at the front of a long line on the highway, with cars stretching out behind.

Ann Fisher / https://www.flickr.com/photos/yooperann/

  Farm fatalities jumped by almost 40 percent in Indiana in 2014, according to Purdue University’s annual Farm Fatality Survey.

Two trends stand out among the survey’s data: Of the 25 farming-related deaths last year, nearly a third were from tractors overturning, and almost two-thirds were the result of some sort of machinery-related incident. Also, a full three-quarters of ag-related deaths in the state were of people younger than 18 or older than 60.

White County Hog Barn Raises Environmental Concerns

Oct 13, 2015
US Department of Agriculture / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/

For the second time in two years, the White County Area Plan commission will consider a rezoning request for a confined feeding hog operation that is opposed by neighboring residents.

Gary and Connie Rice want to build a barn that would house 4,000 hogs on nearly seven acres of land.

To do that, the land must be rezoned from General Agriculture to Agricultural Industry.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Residents of Danville, Indiana, along with the Hoosier Environmental Council, filed a lawsuit on Wednesday against a large factory farm. If successful, the suit could have major consequences for the agriculture industry in the state.

Neighbors of the farm, which contains approximately 8,000 pigs, say the odor is unbearable. Gases like ammonia and hydrogen sulfide that waft from large manure pits could pose health risks. And they say their property value has plummeted, so they can’t just sell and move away.

Ivy Tech Community College

Plans are being made for a statewide precision agriculture center at Ivy Tech’s Terre Haute campus.

Ivy Tech already offers agriculture technician courses, training students to become IT specialists for a new age of GPS enabled farm equipment. This equipment lets farmers target the best spot in their fields to plant, spread extra fertilizer or use more herbicide.

U.S. Department of Agriculture / https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/8227778574/

A new corn disease has been discovered in Indiana, and it’s the first confirmed case in the country.

The disease called "tar spot" is more commonly found in Mexico and Central America, but its presence in the Hoosier state should not cause any immediate problems.

Kiersten Wise, Purdue Extension Specialist for Field Crop Diseases, says a fungus causes the disease and it discolors crops in ways other pests do.

Indiana Grown

More than 200 producers have signed up to become members of the new Indiana Grown program, and Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann notes they span all of Indiana agriculture – everything from hardwood to poultry, produce to bath and body products. 

State Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney says Indiana Grown encompasses all aspects of the food chain.

“It’s the retailers that have been pressing, pressing, pressing for this and I hope we’ve delivered a good product.  Same with restaurants,” McKinney says.

indianapublicmedia.org/news

Indiana Agriculture Commissioner Ted McKinney predicts a recent egg price spike will also raise the cost of products that use liquid eggs, like salad dressings or breakfast sandwiches. He says the flu epidemic is not the only reason prices have gone up, but it’s certainly played a role.

He hopes the flu outbreak will raise awareness about the importance of keeping food supplies secure and livestock safe from contamination.

"Keeping one’s birds contained, isolated, looked after, is probably the biggest thing," McKinney says.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA

Second-generation West Lafayette farmer Kevin Underwood has three tractors he uses to farm 1,600 acres of land – one is several decades old, another he bought just a few years ago. But while his 30 year old tractor still works well, Underwood says the system taxing what that tractor produces does not.

“The bind we’re in at this point is we’ve got income level going down and taxes and input costs continuing to go up,” Underwood says.

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