Farm Bureau raises record amount for Feeding American Page 8 Farmer-soldiers continue mission in Afghanistan Pages 4, 5 Inside: News in Brief................2 Rules & Regs.................3 Around IFB....................6 Communication............7 AFBF News...................8 The Hoosier Farmer ® A Publication for Voting Members of Indiana Farm Bureau MARCH 11, 2013 Issue No. 36 Governor signs bill to delay implementation of proposed soil factors —By Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team Gov. Mike Pence signs Senate Enrolled Act 319, which delays implementation of proposed soil productivity factors and places additional requirements on the establishment of new factors. Shown with Pence are the bill’s authors and sponsors, other members of the Pence administration, and a number of farmers, including IFB Vice President Randy Kron. SEA 319 was the first bill signed by the governor since taking office. Photo by Kathleen M. Dutro Legislature grapples with road funding issues —By Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team It is still unclear how – or if – this task will be accomplished, but as the 2013 General Assembly entered its second half, several different efforts to provide additional funding for local roads were still alive. “There is widespread acknowledgement among legislators that additional revenue is urgently needed by counties and cities and towns for road and street repair and maintenance.” said Katrina Hall, IFB tax and local government specialist. “Many options are being vetted but it will probably include a mix of state and local dollars to meet the funding projections provided to the General Assembly by a collation of groups working on the issue, including Indiana Farm Indiana Farm Bureau P.O. Box 1290 Indianapolis, IN 46206 Bureau. It is estimated that the unmet state and local road funding needs are approximately $1 billion annually. No one expects that all the funding needs will be met, but some progress is expected.” One possible source of local road funding is the House version of the state’s 2013-2015 budget, which was approved on a 68-28 vote on Feb. 25. Among its provisions was an additional $250 million for highway and road projects. The House-passed budget will be revisited by the Senate Appropriations Committee and the full Senate, and the final version will be negotiated in a House-Senate conference committee during the last couple weeks of the legislative session, Hall said. In addition to the funding provided in HB 1001, road funding is also the topic of Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Huntington, IN Permit NO. 832 some other bills that are still under consideration: HB 1067 – This bill, which was approved by a vote of 93-0, would allow federal highway dollars awarded to local governments to be “swapped” for state dollars. This exchange helps local government avoid burdensome federal construction regulations that drive up the cost of bridges and other large local projects. Authored by Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, the bill now moves to the Senate, where it has been assigned in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation & Veterans Affairs. HB 1117 and SB 389 – These measures would allow a county income tax council to impose a motor vehicle excise surtax and a wheel tax. Currently only the county council can impose these taxes, the proceeds of which are used for local road maintenance. The county income tax council is a fiscal body created by the Indiana General Assembly in 1984 to decide local income tax issues. SB 389 passed the Senate by a vote of 37-11 and has been assigned to the House Ways & Means Committee. However, while the HB 117 passed Ways & Means, it was defeated 31-67 when it came before the full House. The soil productivity factors proposed last year by the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance and strongly opposed by Farm Bureau have been delayed by another year due to the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 319. Governor Mike Pence signed the bill on Feb. 27. The measure retains the long-standing soil productivity factors for the 2013 assessment (payable in 2014) of farmland. It also directs the DLGF, in cooperation with the Purdue College of Agriculture, to develop and submit to the General Assembly recommendations and justifications for any proposed changes in the methodology used to establish soil productivity factors that adjust the base value of farmland. The governor’s signature is the last step in the process that the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency estimates will save Indiana farmers $57.4 million a year in property taxes. SEA 319 was fast-tracked so it could be enacted before the March 1, 2013, assessment date. In its journey through the General Assembly, SEA 319 didn’t receive a single “no” vote. “This is a proud and momentous day for both Gov. Pence and Indiana Farm Bureau,” said IFB President Don Villwock. “His signature on this legislation, his very first, gives some degree of tax certainty to Hoosier farmers for another year. And unlike the gridlock we have become accustomed to in our nation’s capital, we are proud of the Indiana General Assembly for putting politics aside in favor of helping Indiana agriculture.” The measure stipulates that the DLGF, in cooperation with the Purdue University College of Agriculture, submit information on proposed new soil productivity factors – including the new factors themselves, as well as the methodology and data used to determine them – before Nov. 1, 2013. According to Purdue University agricultural economist Larry DeBoer, speaking in an interview with Inside INdiana Business, it might be worthwhile to take another look at the soil productivity factors since the current factors have been in place for 30-35 years. However, DeBoer said, the factors probably won’t change much. “Ultimately, what you’re looking at, though, is the physical properties of the soil, fertile soil relative to less fertile soil, and those kinds of physical properties don’t change much over the years,” DeBoer told Inside INdiana Business. It’s possible, he added, that different hybrids, different techniques, and new science might have some effect. “But you really wouldn’t expect to see a really big change in the way different kinds of soils are labeled,” he said. In a statement released just after the bill was signed, Indiana Farm Bureau thanked the governor for signing the bill into law and thanked both the governor and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann for making the soil productivity factor fix one of their top legislative priorities. IFB also thanked House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long for fast-tracking the bill, and the entire Indiana General Assembly for its quick and unanimous passage of the language. The organization also specifically thanked Sens. Jean Leising, Greg Walker, and John Waterman, who authored the bill, and the House sponsor and co-sponsor, Reps. Don Lehe and Bob Cherry.