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Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management Names New Ag Liaison

Farmer selected to be go-between for agency.

Tom Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

January 31, 2012

2 Min Read

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and agriculture haven't always been the best of bedfellows. Before Governor Daniels was elected, many farm groups thought the agency was top-heavy on managers and unwilling to bend when it came to issues related to agriculture. Since IDEM is charged with protecting the waters of the state, and farming brings farmers in frequent contact with these waters, or close proximity to them, there have been times when the two sides haven't seen eye-to-eye.

Daniels kept a campaign promise and made sweeping changes at IDEM during his first week in office as Governor. He reminded IDSEM officials that their role was to prevent the bad actors in any industry form running amuck and fouling the environment. He also reminded them that their job was not to impose unnecessary regulations and burdens on businessmen, including farmers, who were following the rules.

Since then, the attitude between IDEM and agriculture has improved in most people's opinions. Stuck in the middle between the two sides, however, is what IDEM calls an ag liaison. It's a person IDEM hires to help relate IDEM's stand to farmers, and agriculture in general, and in return, represent agriculture's views to IDEM. It takes someone who understands both sides of a very sticky fence.

Past persons in this position include Dave Russell, now a farm broadcaster with the Brownfield Network. Currently, Russell is serving as Brownfield's field rep in Ohio, although his reports are still sometimes heard in Indiana. He will return next December to emcee the Hoosier Beef Congress.

Also formerly in that position was Andy Tauer, who now worlds for the Indiana Soybean Alliance. One of his roles today is writing and editing the Indiana Livestock Newsletter. This newsletter review and summarizes anything that could affect livestock agriculture. It's produced by the Indiana Soybean Alliance and developed via email to subscribers because of the commitment of Indiana soybean farmers to the livestock industry. Livestock producers remain the primary customer for Indiana soybeans.

The new liaison is Steven Howell. He hails from Jay County, where he has farmed with his family. He also has experience as a field representative for Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. Howell in his current position will represent IDEM as it interfaces with ag groups, and help inform IDEM leaders about agriculture's position when IDEM must make key policy decisions.

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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