State Young Farmer Finalists Pages 4, 5
Counties, Individuals To Be Honored Page 3
INSIDE: News in Brief.....................2 Around Farm Bureau.........3 Rules & Regulations........... 6 State & Nation...................7 Leadership Development...8
The Hoosier Farmer
A Publication for Voting Members of Indiana Farm Bureau
NOVEMBER 4, 2013 Issue No. 45
IFB public policy team prepares for 2014 General Assembly —By Mindy Reef Public Relations Team The IFB public policy team will get a head start on the 2014 legislative session on Nov. 19 at the General Assembly’s annual Organization Day. For Farm Bureau members, the 2014 Legislative Kickoff is Jan. 8. Public policy committee chairs should check their emails for district meetings happening from late November until early January. Building strategies and relationships will be the focus of these meetings. A symbol has been designed for members to know when a story or message is related to 2014 public policy programs. The red, white and blue box with four quadrants of art (shown
at right) lets you know that what you’re seeing is directly related to 2014 policy. The 2014 Indiana General Assembly officially begins in early January. Members can also get updates on IFB’s public policy team activities by following team members on Twitter. A general Twitter account for public policy, @ifbpolicy, will keep members up to date on issues of common interest. Megan Ritter: @ifbmegan Katrina Hall: @ifbkatrina Justin Schneider: @ifbjustin Amy Cornell: @ifbamy Kyle Cline: @ifbkyle Greg Slipher: @ifbgreg Bob White: @ifbbobw Bob Cherry: @ifbbobc Counties are encouraged to visit the Statehouse.
Results of study of soil productivity factors to be revealed soon —Edited by Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team Since 1980, Indiana’s farmland has been valued with a “use-value” concept that adjusts a base value by the relative differences in a given soil’s corn producing capacity. The result can also be reduced by “influence factors” such as being wooded or frequently flooding to reflect characteristics of a specific parcel. Indiana has been a leader in valuing agricultural property based on its productive potential – well in advance of the implementation of “market value” assessing in 2003. Since 2003, the base Indiana Farm Bureau P.O. Box 1290 Indianapolis, IN 46206
value has been recalculated using a complex formula resulting in a value that is essentially capitalized net income per acre. Currently, this formula averages the lowest five of six years taking into account yields of corn and soy beans, market prices, cash rents and the cost of putting out a crop for each of those years. IFB was successful in delaying the implementation of new soil productivity factors that would have increased farmland taxes across the state by $57.4 million annually. SB 319, which passed the General Assembly in February, called for a study to determine what new facNon-Profit Organization U.S. Postage
Berne, IN Permit NO. 43
tors should be and if changes were even needed. The Purdue School of Agriculture and the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance have revealed preliminary results to IFB that will be made public very soon. Early indications are that the results address the objections made by IFB. Many lawmakers who represent less rural areas complain that farmland assessments are well below the selling price of farmland. In fact, farmland assessments are the only portion of the local tax base that is growing – primarily due to higher yields from better management practices and advancing technology along with higher commodity prices. The farmland base value has escalated from $1,140 for taxes payable in 2008 to $1,760 for taxes payable next year in 2014. It is easy to see why farmers don’t think they are getting a big break when their taxes are increasing each year unlike the rest of the tax base that has stagnated due to the flat
economy. “It is troubling that after reassessment the overall statewide property tax base for Pay 2013 actually declined,” stated Katrina Hall, director of state government relations for Indiana Farm Bureau. Some of the tax base decline is from new pricing tables for commercial and industrial property that the Department of Local Government Finance implemented for the 2012 pay 2013 reassessment. Ironically, farmers who have more modern buildings may have experienced increased values on their barns, tool sheds and livestock facilities. “If this happened to you, please have a discussion with your assessor. You may want to appeal,” stressed Hall. Assessors and their consulting appraisal firms have been looking for value to prop up tax base declines in commercial and industrial properties and residential values that are dramatically reduced by the homestead
deduction and supplemental deduction. Along these lines, farmers have been impacted by greater scrutiny to receiving the farmland classification. “Farmers may also need to appeal assessing changes that moved certain acreage from farmland to “excess residential acres” or where assessors have changed influence factors from wooded to non-tillable, for instance,” said Hall. Changes within the farmland class may not be justified and alone can change taxable value by as much as 60 percent. Finally, members in certain counties are telling IFB that they are receiving personal property audit notices. In at least some counties, these notices specifically target agriculture. Members should cooperate with local assessors, but please notify Katrina Hall at khall@ infarmbureau.org when and if you feel that agriculture is singled out. There is no law stating that farmer’s personal property should be audited each year.
NEWS IN BRIEF
News Bites —Compiled by Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team
Hall named to fiscal policy board—Katrina A. Hall, IFB’s director of state government relations, has been named to the board of the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute. The IFPI is Indiana’s only independent statewide source of continuing research into the impact of state taxing and spending policies in Indiana. It is privately supported by a variety of organizations, corporations, associations, and individuals in Indiana and surrounding states. (IFB
WRRDA passage in the House is welcome news—The
American Farm Bureau Federation is extremely pleased the House passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013, on Wednesday. WRRDA is one of Farm Bureau’s priority legislative issues. “Having an efficient and reliable inland waterway system linked to competitive ports is vital to America’s ability to provide affordable farm products domestically and to compete internationally,” noted AFBF President Bob Stallman in a statement. “More than 60 percent of grain grown by U.S. farmers for export is transported via inland waterways and 95 percent of farm exports and imports move through U.S. harbors.” The House must now conference with the Senate, which passed its version of WRRDA legislation in May. To see the full statement issued by AFBF, visit the AFBF website, www.fb.org, and click on “Newsroom.” (AFBF
Poultry grower prevails against EPA—Poultry and livestock farmers declared victory on Wednesday when a federal court ruled in favor of West Virginia poultry farmer Lois Alt in a lawsuit she brought against the Environmental Protection Agency. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia ruled that contrary to EPA’s contention, ordinary stormwater from Alt’s farmyard is exempt from National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit requirements. Alt filed suit against EPA in June 2012 after the agency threatened her with $37,500 in fines each time stormwater came into contact with dust, feathers or small amounts of manure on the ground outside of her poultry houses as a result of normal farm operations. EPA also threatened separate fines of $37,500 per day if Alt failed to apply for a NPDES permit for such stormwater discharges. AFBF and the West Virginia Farm Bureau intervened alongside Alt as co-plaintiffs to help resolve the issue for the benefit of other poultry and livestock farmers. “We are pleased the court flatly rejected EPA’s arguments and ruled in favor of Lois Alt,” said AFBF President Bob Stallman. “The outcome of this case will benefit thousands of livestock and poultry farmers who run their operations responsibly and who should not have to get a federal permit for ordinary rainwater from their farmyards.” (AFBF
Making the case for immigration reform —By Cyndie Sirekis American Farm Bureau Federation Convincing members of Congress to pay attention to a specific issue is a herculean task considering all the attention now focused on the fallout from the partial government shutdown, the looming federal debt crisis and so on. That is why Farm Bureau members are joining with Americans for Reform, a loose coalition of business owners, faith leaders, law enforcement officials and conservatives, to push Congress to act on immigration reform this year. Farmers and ranchers from around the nation will be delivering messages to their legislators in Washington, D.C., on why immigration reform is important to them. Many compelling stories will be shared. Indiana farmers, including representatives of the dairy, hog, tomato and farm credit industries, will be participating in a “fly-in” beginning on Oct. 28 (which is the deadline for this issue of The Hoosier Farmer). As a life-long farmer and an employer, Doug Krahmer has experienced the difficulty of finding enough pickers to harvest his 500 acres of
blueberries and to help with the year-round maintenance of the plants. Krahmer and his daughter Annie operate a blueberry farm in Oregon. As much as 40 percent of the workers they employ are new to the fields each year due to immigration issues. Along with migrant workers, Krahmer aims to employ as many unemployed Americans and young people as he can. “I just need productive and legal workers,” Krahmer says. In Pennsylvania, farmers like Ed Leo are finding it difficult to hire enough workers to harvest mushrooms by hand. Although he employs about 60 full-time people to harvest mushrooms, it has been difficult to find and hire additional workers that are needed due to immigration issues. “Throughout the summer we had to harvest crops earlier than normal, which we don’t like to do,” explains Leo. Despite offering pay that is double what local fast-food employees earn, plus health benefits, paid vacation time and holidays, few domestic workers are interested in working on the farm.
And mechanized harvesting of mushrooms is not an option because fungi that start growing at the same time often vary in size and maturity level. For Georgia peach grower Chalmers Carr, the H-2A program offered by the federal government to help farmers bring foreign workers in to harvest crops is just too difficult to navigate. And all too frequently, delays have meant workers arrive in the U.S. weeks after a crop is ready to be harvested. It’s a situation that’s all too common for farmers across the U.S. “Immigration reform is well overdue,” says Carr, who has struggled to find workers for a dozen years, despite offering wages well above the federal minimum of $7.35 per hour. Farmers are doing their best to make sure their concerns are heard above the din in Washington. If Congress does nothing in response, they won’t be the only ones facing the consequences. It may not happen immediately, but continuation of current agricultural labor policies is almost guaranteed to lead to higher food costs for consumers.
legislation has not been enacted to reauthorize or extend this authority. Effective Oct. 1, the FSA does not have legislative authority to approve or process applications for these programs. For more information on CRP, DCP and ACRE, producers should contact their local FSA office or visit FSA’s website at the FSA homepage, www.fsa.usda.gov/FSA/.
Address Letters & Questions To: Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. Box 1290, Indianapolis, IN 46206-1290. Phone: 1-800-327-6287 or (317) 692-7776 E-Mail Address: email@example.com
Modified Crops Should be Part of Africa’s Future” is the title of an opinion piece in the Oct. 22 issue of The Washington Post. African nations, where crop yields lag far behind the rest of the
USDA issues CRP, direct and ACRE payments—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA has begun distributing Con-
servation Reserve Program annual rental payments to participants across the country. USDA also will distribute 2013 direct payments and 2012 Average Crop Revenue Election program payments beginning Thursday. Payments originally were scheduled to be issued earlier in the month, but were delayed by several weeks due to the lapse in federal funding caused by the partial government shutdown. The 2008 farm bill, extended by the American Tax Payer Relief Act of 2012, provides authority to enroll land in DCP, ACRE and CRP through Sept. 30. However,
Legal Affairs Team
Public Relations Team
President...................................... Don Villwock Vice President.................................Randy Kron Second Vice President................. Isabella Chism Chief Operating Officer/Treasurer....Mark Sigler Receptionist...................................... Kim Duke General Fund Accountant.............. Tiffanie Ellis Office Manager & Meeting Planner.Kay Keown Controller.......................................Elaine Rueff Administrative Assistant....................Jill Shanley Executive Secretary..................... Beverly Thorpe
Director & General Counsel ...Mark Thornburg Associate Counsel for Corporate Compliance & Nonprofit Affairs ............Sara MacLaughlin Legal Assistant........................... Maria Spellman
Director & Editor .......................Andy Dietrick Web Designer/Developer..............Diane Brewer Administrative Assistant...................Charla Buis Publications Managing Editor & Media Relations Specialist...... Kathleen Dutro Marketing & PR Specialist.............. Mindy Reef
Wayne Belden (1 & 3) Greg Bohlander (6) Jennifer Chandler Gish (9) Andrew Cleveland (4 & 6) Janice Deno (3) Seth Harden (7 & 9) Amy Hutson (5) Susan Lawrence (2) Chancey May (10) John Newsom (1 & 2) Kermit Paris (8) Keegan Poe (5 & 8) Brad Ponsler (10) E.B. Rawles (7) Allie Rieth (4)
District Directors Larry Jernas (1) Kerry Goshert (2) Kevin Underwood (3) Steve Maple (4) Dave Wyeth (5)
Scott Trennepohl (6) Jeff Gormong (7) Mark Bacon (8) Philip Springstun (9) Robert Schickel (10)
Indiana Agricultural Law Foundation Director..................... John Shoup
November 4, 2013
Washington Post editorial supports biotech crops in Africa—“Genetically
Public Policy Team Director........................................ Megan Ritter Policy Development & Industry Relations.........................Bob Cherry National Government Relations Policy Advisor................. Kyle Cline State Government Relations Policy Advisor & Counsel..........Amy Cornell Administrative Assistant .................... B.J. Fields State Government Relations Director...................................... Katrina Hall Administrative Assistant .............Wanda Hunter Senior Policy Advisor & Counsel..................................Justin Schneider Livestock Development Specialist... Greg Slipher Direct Retail Business Specialist........Bob White
world, have been slow to accept genetic engineering of crops, noted the editorial. Further, although “genetic engineering in agriculture is not a magic bullet for Africa, but it can help battle pests and diseases, improve nutrition and reduce the use of water and chemicals, all of which would benefit farmers and their families.” (AFBF 10/23/13)
Organizational Development Team Director............................................... Kim Vail Field Services Program Director.....Chris Fenner Young Farmer & Women’s Program Coordinator................ Meggie Foster Collegiate Farm Bureau Coordinator................................ Seth Harden Program Assistant.......................Kathryn Rogers Education Coordinator.................... Julie Taylor Member Services Coordinator...........Anna Todd Administrative Assistant.................. Tracie Trent
Indiana Farm Bureau Inc./ Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Director of Affiliate Relations..... Julie Volbers-Klarich
Duplicate Magazines If you are receiving more than one copy of The Hoosier Farmer®, please cut out both labels and return them to the address above. Magazine Design and Layout Davis Graphic Design www.davisgraphics.com The Hoosier Farmer® is published 14 times per year by Indiana Farm Bureau Inc., P.O. Box 1290, Indianapolis, IN 46206, and is furnished as a service to voting members and others. Controlled circulation. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Hoosier Farmer® P.O. Box 1290 Indianapolis, IN 46206-1290. Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
AROUND FARM BUREAU
Counties, individuals to be honored at convention —By Mindy Reef Public Relations Team The state convention has several purposes, but one of the most important is to spotlight counties, individual members and Farm Bureausponsored or -affiliated award winners. “There would be no Farm Bureau without the hard work of our volunteers,” said Chris Fenner, director of field services and convention committee chairman. “Each county and individual brings something to the organization that is worth offering our thanks and congratulations.” Recognition for county Farm Bureaus takes place on Friday, Dec. 13, after the evening meal. The County Recognition Program acknowledges the variety of work that counties accomplished in the past year. All 92 counties reached Cardinal or Hawk status in at least one of the five categories of the recognition program: membership, influential organization, issue engagement, young farmers and youth, and public relations and education. Counties that achieve Hawk status
in all five categories are named Falcons. Impact Awards are an optional recognition opportunity. Counties may choose to highlight a single event, program or activity that fits into the one of the five recognition program categories. Up to three awards may be given per category. Impact Awards are kept secret until the ceremony. Awards involving outside groups will be given during lunch on Friday, Dec. 13. Beck’s Hybrids and Indiana AgriNews award the Indiana Farm Family of the Year; the Indiana Small and Rural Schools Association recognizes the Rural Teacher of the Year; Purdue will present the Frederick L. Hovde Award of Excellence to a faculty or staff member with an outstanding record of educational service to rural Indiana; and Purdue’s College of Agriculture recognizes the winner of the Pearson scholarships, named for former IFB President Harry Pearson. President Don Villwock’s annual address also takes place during Friday’s lunch. Presentations for the Young Farmer Excellence in Agriculture and Achieve-
ment Awards take place on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 10:30 a.m. The final round of the Discussion Meet and naming of the winner also occur during this session. Awards for membership achievements are given on Saturday, Dec. 14, during the lunch and keynote speaker session. Top
membership chairperson, membership champions, top member solicitor and top agent in voting and total members will be recognized. IFB state convention runs Dec. 13 and 14 at the Grand Wayne Convention Center in Fort Wayne. For more information, visit www.infarm-
bureau.org/convention or call Tracie Trent, 317-6927846. The deadline for hotel reservations was Nov. 1; rooms may still be available but the convention price is not guaranteed. Meal tickets are available from your county office until Nov. 18. Pre-registration for the event is open until Dec. 6.
Counties work hard to carry out IFB’s mission —By Julie Volbers-Klarich Director of Affiliate Relations Indiana Farm Bureau’s County Recognition Program ended on Sept. 30. With more than 5,100 activities and events taking place, one thing is for sure: Volunteers are working hard across the state of Indiana to
carry out the mission of our organization. One hundred percent of the counties participated and in addition, 17 counties submitted Impact Award applications. We look forward to recognizing all counties for their efforts at convention in December. Thank you for your volunteer efforts.
Leaders in Action reminder —By Mindy Reef Public Relations Team
Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Conference January 24 & 25 Indianapolis Marriott
For more information, visit www.infarmbureau.org and click on “Programs” Ü “Young Farmer” Ü “2014 Young Farmer Conference.” www.thehoosierfarmer.com
The application period is open for the 2014 class of Leaders in Action, IFB’s leadership development program. The program is for individuals who want to enhance their leadership skills, specifically becoming more effective at the local, state or national levels in both volunteer and elected positions. The first two meetings for the 2014 program are in northern Indiana, though participants may come from anywhere in the state. The cost is $200 per per-
son for Farm Bureau members and $250 per person for non-members. Hotel rooms are provided only when meeting in Indianapolis and in Washington, D.C. Some meals in D.C. will not be covered. Some county Farm Bureaus may choose to pay for participants. For more information, contact your regional manager or Julie Volbers-Klarich, 317-692-8011, firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications and additional information are also available online at www.infarmbureau.org under the “Programs” menu.
November 4, 2013
YOUNG FARMER AWARDS
Young farmer finalists represent —By Kathleen M. Dutro Public Relations Team The finalists in this year’s Indiana Farm Bureau Young Farmer Achievement and Excellence in Agriculture awards come from different parts of the state, have different operations and participate
in farming in different ways, but they all represent outstanding achievement and leadership in agriculture. The YFEA award gives recognition to young farmers who do not derive the majority of their income from an agricultural operation they own but who are actively
contributing and growing through their involvement in Farm Bureau and agriculture. Participants will be judged on their involvement in agriculture, leadership ability, involvement and participation in Farm Bureau and other organization. Indiana’s YFEA winner
receives a John Deere Gator (cash value: $8,000) courtesy of Farm Credit Services; $3,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; and expenses paid to the 2014 national convention in San Antonio, Texas. Young farmers who earn a majority of their income from
YFAA finalists Craig and Mindy Fruechte, Adams County
Craig and Mindy Fruechte and their children, Mason, 6, and Brielle, 3.
Third-generation farmer George Kakasuleff was raised on the family’s Hamilton County grain farm that was started by his grandfather in the 1950s. His wife Carly, on the other hand, grew up in the suburbs with no farm experience. Yet both agree that giving their son Vince – and any future Kakasuleff offspring – the opportunity to be the fourth generation to work their land is vitally important. George holds a degree in agronomic business and marketing and is a certified commercial applicator. Carly’s degree in informatics is a good fit for the farm as technology plays an important role in the operation. Spreadsheets help with marketing and purchase decisions, grain monitors ensure quality in the new onfarm storage and use of inputs has improved because of tracking and mapping technologies. And the farm itself is more visible thanks to a Facebook page and website (www.kakasulefffarms.com/) that shares the daily workings of farm life with a non-farm public.
YFAA finalists Matt and Kristen Schafer, Laporte County
Matt and Kristen Schafer with their son, Lucas, 4.5 months, on Schafer Farms near LaCrosse. Matt grew up on the family farm and now runs it together with his father, uncle and brother-in-law.
November 4, 2013
Story & photos by Kathleen M. Dutro
Sixth-generation farmers Craig and Mindy Fruechte farm around 1,800 acres, both have off-farm jobs, and they have two children, so it’s fair to say that they are pretty busy. But they nonetheless take pride in encouraging and educating their children, coworkers and the community about agriculture, they said. The farm operation produces corn, soybeans and alfalfa. They share ownership of much of the equipment with Craig’s father, with whom they also exchange labor during busy times. Off-farm, Craig, who has a degree in agribusiness, works for AgriStats in Fort Wayne, while Mindy, who has a nursing degree, is a case manager at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne. They are also active volunteers in Farm Bureau, their county fair, their county pork producer organiCraig checks the moisture level on the previous day’s zation, extension and their church. Although corn harvest. The Fruechtes have recently expanded they are no longer in the hog business, they wanted their children to have an opportunity to their grain-handling setup. care for livestock, so they’ve started raising livestock for freezer meat and showing.
YFAA finalists George and Carly Kakasuleff, Hamilton County
Two-year-old Vince is the center of attention, but George and Carly still find time for Hamilton County and Indiana Farm Bureau activities and are active in their local Kiwanis and Chamber of Commerce.
their farms are recognized through the YFAA award. They are judged on their achievements in their farming operation and on their leadership abilities. The state YFAA winner receives a $6,000 cash prize from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance; 250 hours maxi-
Matt Schafer went to college to keep his options open, but the plan to come back to work on his father and uncle’s farm near LaCrosse never wavered. Today he makes most of the crop planning and day-to-day management decisions on the farm, which is poised for expansion. “We want to continue to grow,” says Matt. “The goal for the near-term is to reach 5,000 acres. But it has to be done the right way and for the right reasons.” In addition to corn and soybeans, the farm grows seed corn, cucumbers, green beans and some wheat, and includes a feedlot. Matt’s wife, Kristen, is a teacher who currently stays home with the couple’s young son and is looking for more ways to be involved on the farm. Raised in the suburbs of Chicago, she now manages the farm’s website and social media. “In a way I’m educating the lay person about ag life,” she says.
Photos by Andy Dietrick
Controlled growth is just one of George’s long-term goals. In the past few years Kakasuleff Farms has purchased acreage, increased its rental acres, expanded into custom farming and now grows seed corn for a major Midwestern seed company.
Photos by Lindy McGurk
Matt empties a semi-trailer with soybeans after it returns from the fields. Since he started working on the farm as a college student in 1999 his father and uncle have let him work his way into the partnership and gradually take on more responsibility. His knowledge of the planting process, such as buying inputs and creating planting intention maps, came in particularly handy in 2007 after his father was incapacitated in an ATV accident.
YOUNG FARMER AWARDS
t the best of Indiana agriculture mum free use of one MSeries tractor (and loader, if appropriate) courtesy of Kubota Tractor Corporation; the David L. Leising Memorial Award; and expenses paid to the 2014 national convention. Runners up in both contests receive $1,000 cash
prizes from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance. Winners in these two contests, as well as IFB’s Young Farmer Discussion Meet, will advance to the national Young Farmer & Rancher contests, where they will compete against young farmers from across the
country. National winners will receive their choice of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra truck, courtesy of GM. Nine national finalists will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH, as well as a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in Stihl merchandise.
More on this year’s YFEA and YFAA finalists, including web-exclusive stories and photos, is available at The Hoosier Farmer’s website at www.infarmbureau.org/ hoosierfarmer/newsbites.aspx.
YFEA finalists Tom & Jamie Schilmiller, Floyd County
Tom and Jamie Schilmiller, pictured with son Evan, 2, and daughter Lacy, 4, and are members in Floyd County. The Schilmillers use opportunities such as the local observance of Farm Week, government meetings, church events and the 4-H fair to talk to the public about how and why farmers do what they do.
Tom and Jamie Schilmiller live near Floyds Knobs in Floyd County. Tom works at Koetter and Smith, a company that recycles wood waste. Jamie is a stayat-home mom to Lacy, 4, and Evan, 2. Baby Schilmiller 3 is due in late November. The Schilmillers help Tom’s family’s farm, which includes hay, corn, soybeans, wheat, cattle, pumpkins and potatoes. The family sells the produce at roadside stands in the fall. Both are active in the Floyd County Farm Bureau, serving as board members, on several committees and as delegates, among other roles. Tom is currently the county Young Farmer chairman while Jamie is county secretary/treasurer. Jamie is also a recent graduate of the IFB Leaders in Action program. In their community, the Schilmillers are active in their church, the local Soil and Water Conservation District and participate in Extension programs.
YFEA finalists Chris and Marah Steele, Adams County
Marah and Chris Steele and their children – Carter, 7; Cooper, 5; and Mayah, 3 – pose in the wagon used for the farm’s hayrides.
Chris and Marah Steele have turned their dream of farming into a diversified operation that, besides corn and soybeans, includes pumpkins; a corn maze; freezer meat; soy candles; a market; special activities and crafts; and a concession stand. They started farming in 2005, on the same land Chris grew up on. Both have worked offfarm, and Chris still does, working as a salesman for a multi-state tire distributor in a territory with a radius of around 150 miles. Marah was a kindergarten teacher until their second child was born, and she now runs the household and manages the agri-tourism operation. Both are active in Farm Bureau, having served on the State Young Farmer Committee (Chris served as chairman last year) as well as in other positions at the county and state levels, and they are active in their community, church and Boy Scouts.
YFEA finalists Nick & Julie Wenning, Decatur County
Matt and Julie Wenning enjoy camping, fishing, playing softball and spending time outdoors with their three children Travis, 2, Josie, 4, and Henry, 3 months. They’re also passionate about conservation and have hosted multiple field days about no-till practices, cover crops and soil health on their farm near Greensburg.
A freshwater shrimp operation adds a twist to the traditional row crop farm that Nicholas and Julie Wenning run together with his father, brother and aunt near Greensburg. “We were looking for ways for me to get back to the farm and nobody else was doing this,” said Nicholas. “It’s really been a fun thing for us, and it’s drawn a lot of people from town to the farm.” Nicholas has farmed his whole life and also works full time running an excavating business. Julie works as a high school math teacher, but finds time to help out on the farm as well. “I operate the equipment, I help with the harvest. I’m the ‘what they need’ person,” she said. Farming gives both Nicholas and Julie the opportunity to spend a lot of time outdoors with their three young children, something that they love and appreciate. “It’s a way of life,” Julie said.
Photos by Mindy Reef
The Schilmillers work together to bundle Indian corn to sell with the seasonal produce the family offers through roadside stands in the fall. While the colorful pumpkins and gourds draw customers in, Tom and Jamie use the face time to share messages about how the plants grow, safety around farm equipment and their family’s farm.
Story & photos by Kathleen M. Dutro
Chris helps visitors get ready for a hayride. Steel Family Farms offers hayrides, a corn maze, pumpkins and other fall treats from late September through late October. They sell meat year-round.
Photos by Linda McGurk
Since 2008 Nicholas Wenning has owned and operated Wenning Excavating and Drainage Inc., a business that puts in roughly half a million feet of field tile every year. The business’ services also include digging basements, installing septic systems, shaping waterways, and building ponds and erosion control structures.
November 4, 2013
RULES & REGULATIONS
—From the AFBF Information Team Congressional leaders moving forward on negotiations to resolve differences between the Senate and House versions of the 2013 farm bill is a commendable step but much more remains to be done, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. Overall, both the Senate and House bills provide an adequate food and farm safety net for consumers and farmers, built around options that are consistent with AFBF policy, AFBF President Bob Stallman noted in a letter to conferees detailing Farm Bureau’s views on an array of issues related to the legislation. “Farm Bureau’s two overarching concerns related to the Senate-House conference on the farm bill are ensuring that permanent law is not repealed and a complete, unified bill continues,” said Stallman. As of The Hoosier Farmer’s Oct. 28 deadline, the first public meeting of the House and Senate farm bill conferees was slated for Oct. 30, according to a news release
from the U.S House Committee on Agriculture. The agenda for the meeting included opening statements and discussion of H.R. 2642, the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act of 2013. “For some time, the threat of reinstatement of the longoutdated policies of the 1938 and 1949 acts has served as strong motivation for Congress to enact new farm bills,” Stallman said. “Repealing those acts and making the 2013 farm bill commodity title permanent law could make it difficult in the future to generate sufficient political pressure to adjust the commodity safety net provisions should conditions in production agriculture change.” The letter noted that if the farm bill expires after five years, other important farm and rural programs covered in different titles are at risk of not being reauthorized. “Over the last two years, leadership of both ag committees have demonstrated their ability to forge bipartisan compromise to achieve a new five-year farm bill that meets farmers’ and ranchers’ needs while also contributing
significant savings to reduce our federal deficit,” said Stallman. “We only see these savings if Congress gets the bill done,” he added. Farm Bureau continues to stand firmly behind the inclusion of the nutrition title in the farm bill. “A farm bill without a meaningful nutrition title will make it difficult, if not impossible, for the House and Senate to reach agreement on a final version that can be signed by the president,” said Stallman, urging conferees to move forward on a unified farm bill that continues the “marriage” between the nutrition and farm communities. None of the conferees are from Indiana, but according to the news release from the House Ag Committee, there are several from surrounding states, including Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., House Ways & Means Committee chairman; Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio; Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Rep. Sandy Levin, D-Mich., ranking member, House Ways & Means Committee; and Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.,
Proposed tax reform could have significant impact on Hoosier farmers —By Kyle Cline Public Policy Team U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Republicans have been having member-only meetings since returning from the August recess to hash out the details of a tax reform bill now expected to be released in November. While information coming out of the committee’s closed-door sessions has been limited, there are reliable reports that cash accounting remains one of the unsettled items. Farm Bureau has become increasingly concerned about the future use of cash accounting by farmers because of changes proposed in the committee’s small business discussion draft. That draft would: Reduce the threshold at which family corporations are required to switch from cash to accrual accounting from $25 million of gross receipts to $10 million. For the first time impose a threshold for S-Corps and partnerships, also at $10 million. Farm Bureau supports the continuation of unrestricted
November 4, 2013
cash accounting for farmers and ranchers who pay taxes as individuals and cautions against reducing the number of corporate farms eligible to use it. Cash accounting combined with the ability to accelerate expenses and defer income gives farmers the flexibility they need to manage their tax burden by allowing them to target an optimal level of annual taxable income. In addition, cash accounting allows farmers to improve cash flow, reduce the need to incur debt, simplify record keeping and offer an accurate reflection of a farmer’s financial situation since cash accounting records revenue and expenses when they occur. Another proposed change causing concern among farmers is the small business discussion draft’s proposal to continue only $250,000 of Section 179 small business expensing. Tax provisions that accelerate expensing allow farmers and ranchers to better manage cash flow, minimize tax liabilities and reduce borrowing. In a year when a farm or ranch business has the funds to make major purchases, for example a combine for $350,000 or a tractor for $200,000, business
expenditures will spike and can easily top the proposed threshold. The ability to immediately expense capital purchases also offers the benefit of reducing the record-keeping burden associated with the depreciation. Farm Bureau supports maintaining the current Section 179 expensing limitation of $500,000 and phase out threshold of $2 million. It is important that any new taxing system provide Hoosier farmers with tools to manage their way through the volatilities of an industry characterized by unpredictable weather and unpredictable markets. Farmers are asked to make contacts with their members of Congress, especially the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, about cash accounting, Section 179 small business expensing, capital gains taxes and estate taxes. Additionally, Hoosier farmers are encouraged to contact Congressman Todd Young, a member of the House Ways & Means Committee, regardless of whether or not he is represents their congressional district.
chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. For a complete list of the conferees, visit the House Agriculture Committee’s website (http://agriculture. house.gov/) and click on “News and media,” or visit the Senate Ag Committee’s website (www. agriculture.senate. gov/) and click on “Newsroom.”
Photo by Kathleen M. Dutro
Some progress made in farm bill negotiations
Biotech supporter announces support for mandatory GMO labeling —From the Center for Food Integrity Mark Lynas, former antiGMO activist turned staunch supporter of biotechnology, announced his support for federal standards for GMO labeling and encouraged the food industry to be transparent about the responsible use of that technology. During an Oct. 15 presentation to the food and agriculture industry at the Center for Food Integrity Summit in Chicago, Lynas suggested the labeling debate might present “not risk but opportunity.” “If we truly believe this technology has so much potential as I do, we should be shouting about it from the rooftops. Labels therefore can actually be our friend,” said Lynas. The summit is an annual conference focusing on ethics, values and trust in the food system, and features diverse presenters who speak to building consumer trust and confidence in today’s food. Fighting biotechnology is the explicit agenda of many pro-labeling activists, he said, but if they achieve their agenda of banning GMOs worldwide “we’ll be asking scientists to face the next few decades with their hands tied behind their backs.” He believes activists have a winning argument – the consumer’s right to know. “Who can disagree with the right to know what’s in your food? If people think you’re hiding something from them – they’ll inevitably perceive that what you’re hiding is more risky,” said Lynas. “So instead of hiding biotechnology, bring it out into the open and begin to sell it on its merits.” “I strongly believe that
biotechnology is an essential part to feeding the world sustainably in the future. Foods containing GMOs or GMderived products are no less safe than their conventional alternatives,” he said. Consumers’ right to know is an argument that once a critical mass of people demand it, has to be political suicide to oppose, he said. Simply giving up is not an option either. “Those of us who want to defend science and understand the true potential of biotechnology have no option. We have to change the game.” Lynas is an award-winning author and highly sought after speaker on biotechnology, climate change and nuclear power. His book “Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet,” became a TV hit on the National Geographic Channel. He is a visiting research associate at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment, a member of the advisory board of the science advocacy group Sense About Science, and is vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Emerging Technologies. The Center for Food Integrity is a not-for-profit corporation established to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system. Its members represent every segment of the food system and are committed to providing accurate information and addressing important issues among all food system stakeholders. Lynas’ presentation is available on YouTube at www. youtube.com/watch?v=gz1z obl4Gi0&feature=youtu.be. The audio file is available at www.foodintegrity.org/mediaroom/audio-video.
STATE & NATION
IFB’s ‘Get Involved’ website offers guidance on Affordable Care Act ---From the IFB Public Policy & Legal Affairs Teams On Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act or “ACA” – commonly known as “Obamacare” – public insurance exchanges were unveiled and began accepting applicants. The Affordable Care Act does not require businesses to provide health benefits to their workers, but larger employers face penalties if they don’t make affordable coverage available. Enforcement of those penalties will begin in 2015, a year later than originally scheduled. Larger employers with more than 50 full-time employees (“FTEs”) who do not offer coverage face a penalty of $2,000 per FTE (excluding the first 30 FTEs) if at least one FTE receives a government subsidy to buy coverage on the exchange. A simple flowchart that illustrates how these employer responsibilities work can be found by visiting The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation website. What exactly does this mean for small businesses and farmers? The ACA does not apply to: Those that do not employ any full-time (30-hours per week) year-round workers. Those that do not have 50 or more employees in any month during the year. Those that have more than 50 employees a month, but only for 4 months (120 days) or less out of the year and employees number 50 and above perform seasonal work. Example: A farm has 49 full-time employees from January to the beginning of September and hires 15 seasonal workers for the harvest. Those seasonal workers will not count against the business as long as they are not kept on for more than four months. While the ACA does not require businesses with under 50 employees to provide employees with insurance, it does require that they provide a written notice to employees about the availability of the public healthcare exchanges. In general, the FLSA applies to employers that employ one or more employees who are engaged in, or produce goods for, interstate commerce. For most firms, a test of not less than $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business applies. Beginning Oct. 1, employers are required to fur-
nish all current employees and newly hired employees at the time of hire for the duration of 2013 a notice to satisfy Health Benefits Exchange notice requirements under the Affordable Care Act. As of Jan. 1, 2014, new employees must be furnished with the notice within two weeks of begin-
ning employment. For more on how the Affordable Care Act does and does not affect farmers, visit IFB’s “Get Involved” website, www.ifbgetinvolved. com, and scroll down under “Stay informed on the latest news,” and click on “Affordable Care Act (ACA).” From that page, you can also
access the fact sheet that AFBF has developed for farm employers that provides guidance on how to comply with this new and ongoing requirement. Additionally, there are sample forms that employers can use to provide the required notification. This fact sheet and forms are intended
to be purely informational and do not constitute legal advice. For legal advice, please contact an attorney. The “Get Involved” website also links to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Frequently Asked Questions page regarding the notice requirement.
South Dakota organizes relief for livestock producers hurt by blizzard Tens of thousands of livestock in South Dakota died as a result of the October blizzard that could become one of the most costly in the history of the state’s agriculture industry. The South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund was established on Oct. 8 by the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, the South Da-
kota Stockgrowers Association, and the South Dakota Sheep Growers Association to provide support and relief assistance to those in agriculture impacted by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7. The fund will be administered by these three associations for the direct benefit of the livestock producers impacted by this devastating
blizzard. To donate to the Rancher Relief Fund, visit www. giveblackhills.org and search “Rancher Relief Fund.” Donors can also mail checks to Black Hills Community Area Foundation at PO Box 231, Rapid City, S.D. 57709. Make checks payable to the “Rancher Relief Fund.” The South Dakota Farm
Bureau has established a website that offers updated information for ranchers with livestock losses. For full coverage of the disaster, visit www.sdfbf.org and click on the link. The SDFB website also offers links to the “South Dakota Farm Bureau Cares” fund and a Facebook page that features a prayer chain.
Farm Bureau® Young Farmers & Ranchers Program
YF&R SHAPES THE FUTURE
The YF&R program helps young members shape the future of agriculture, as well as their own, with leadership development. The program strives to provide personal growth and advancement opportunities for its members, while building a more effective Farm Bureau to preserve the industry. As part of the YF&R program, top members are highlighted each January in three competitive areas. Three winners will receive their choice of a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado or GMC Sierra truck, courtesy of GM; nine national finalists will receive a Case IH Farmall tractor, courtesy of Case IH; as well as a $2,500 cash prize and $500 in STIHL merchandise.
Danielle Budy of Woods County, OK, Photo by D. Mielke, OKFB
For more information about YF&R competitive events and how you can get involved, contact your state Farm Bureau office or the American Farm Bureau Federation® at email@example.com or 202-406-3600 November 4, 2013
ALP Class 15 works together to make a difference —By Amy Cornell Legal Team Completing a service project is a core part of AgrIInstitute’s leadership program curriculum, but ALP Class 15 is the first class to complete a project as a team. The class worked together to collect more than 1,500 canning jars filled with food, medicine and school supplies for Hope in the Harvest Missions International in Liberia, Africa. In March, the class will travel to Liberia and use the supplies collected to complete additional service projects in Ganta, Liberia. Although agriculture is a main source of livelihood in Liberia, 80 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Hope in the Harvest Missions is a non-profit Christian ministry that promotes the economic and social wellbeing of individuals. One of the primary focuses of the mission is to teach people farming and food preservation techniques. The Indiana Agricultural Leadership Program (ALP) provides individuals involved in agriculture and
Some of the members of the current class of the Agricultural Leadership Program gather for a group photo during a recent work day. Back row (from left): Danica Kirkpatrick, Jim Bishop, Scott Gabbard, Clark Jordan, Todd Greenwood, and Adam Myers. Middle: Tamilee Nennich, Jeff Jones, Cody Gault, and Todd Janzen. Front: Nikki Hall, Amy Cornell, Jamie Price, and Dave Wyeth.
related industries and those who serve rural communities with the opportunity to improve leadership skills, gain understanding and develop the expertise needed to provide leadership in public affairs for their businesses and communities. It is a highly acclaimed professional development opportunity for leaders at all career stages, and is celebrating more than 25 years of building leadership capacity.
The class collected canning jars and filled them with food, medicine and school supplies for the Hope for the Harvest Missions International. Photo by Amy Cornell
AFBF to convene in San Antonio Jan. 12-15 —From the AFBF Information Team More than 7,000 Farm Bureau members from across the nation are expected to gather in San Antonio, Texas, Jan. 12-15, 2014, for the 95th Annual Convention to hear from distinguished leaders and participate in a grassroots policy-setting process that will guide AFBF through 2014. Gen. Stan McChrystal, a retired four-star general and former commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, will deliver the
keynote address at the convention. McChrystal served 34 years of military service to the U.S. He is a former leader of the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees the military’s most sensitive forces. His leadership of JSOC is recognized for the December 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein as well as Abu Mousab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, in June 2006. He currently teaches a leadership course at Yale University and is the cofounder of the McChrystal
Group, which delivers innovative leadership solutions to organizations. He is also the author of the best-selling leadership book, My Share of the Task: A Memoir. Farm Bureau members can register for the 95th AFBF Annual Convention through their state Farm Bureau. Learn more about convention events and related activities at http:// annualconvention.fb.org/. A preliminary agenda is available on the website as well as information on the entertainment that will be offered and on the convention hotel.
Calendar of Events November 4 7 7, 8 12 13 18 19 26
District 10 fall awards program, Seymour. District 5 fall awards banquet, Covington. IFB Campaign Management School, IFB Home Office. District 9 fall meeting, Crawford County Fairgrounds. IFB Women’s Leadership Committee meeting. District 3 fall meeting. District 4 achievement awards dinner, Taylor University. District 3 fall meeting.
December 13, 14
November 4, 2013
State convention, Fort Wayne.
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