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Mike Koehne advocates for agricultureMike Koehne advocates for agriculture

Someone to Know: This Indiana farmer uses his leadership positions with state and national soybean groups to tell agriculture’s story.

August 21, 2023

3 Min Read
 Mike Koehne stands next to a semitruck
1ST GENERATION: Mike Koehne is a first-generation farmer in Decatur County, Ind. He raises specialty crops including food-grade corn and soybeans. Photos Courtesy of Mike Koehne

by Allison Lund

Telling agriculture’s story is increasingly important to help the public understand why America’s farmers need their support. This work is a top priority for first-generation farmer Mike Koehne, making him “someone to know” in Indiana agriculture.

Koehne grew up in Batesville, Ind., and currently lives and farms in Decatur County. His passion for agriculture stems from his experiences on his uncle’s farm and helping local farmers when he was young.

“I really enjoyed doing the work and the way of life that they had,” Koehne says. “So, I decided that someday, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Koehne’s operation focuses on specialty crops such as non-GMO, food-grade soybeans; high-oleic soybeans and food-grade corn. The premiums for these crops grabbed his attention when he started out.

“When they started giving premiums for growing the specialty stuff, I took it and just kind of stuck with it,” Koehne says. “I felt like, being a smaller farmer, it was a niche that would bring me extra revenue as I went along.”

Advocacy work

Koehne also fills leadership roles with the Indiana Soybean Alliance, American Soybean Association and Soybean Transportation Coalition. He sees his position as the chair of ISA as a way to get a new perspective.

“This board is phenomenal,” Koehne says. “It shows you so much of what goes on behind the scenes and what goes into it. It’s amazing how much work goes into doing trade and transportation.”

Koehne’s position as an ASA board member gives him the opportunity to have his voice heard in Washington, D.C. While he normally doesn’t see himself as a “big politics person,” he finds it important to advocate for farmers.

“There are so many legislators that are not engaged in farming anymore, so I think we need to keep them educated about what goes on out here so that we don’t get left behind,” Koehne says.

He explains that, with farm numbers dwindling each year, farmers’ needs may go unknown. That is why he continues to advocate for agriculture through his position with ASA.

“As a small group, we need to keep bringing our issues forward, because farmers care about the products that they raise and providing safe food to their customers,” Koehne says.

Koehne also serves on the executive committee of the STC, where he works to bring attention to transportation issues. He is consistently working to find ways to improve all forms of transportation for farmers across the country.

three men stand and talk with farm equipment in background

Giving back to ag

While Koehne’s many positions keep him busy, he simply sees his work as a way to give back to an industry that has given him so much.

“Agriculture’s been good to me ever since I’ve been involved in it,” he says. “It’s just so important to promote agriculture and what it stands for and why we do it.”

Moving forward, Koehne is focused on continuing to grow his farm while being efficient and remaining an advocate for agriculture.

While the boards he’s involved with take a lot of time, Koehne finds that you get out what you put in.

“If you get involved and participate in programs and events and go see some of the projects that the checkoff sponsors, I think the knowledge and education you get out of it is well worth it,” Koehne says.

Mike Koehne at a glance

Current roles: Farmer, Indiana Soybean Association chair, American Soybean Association board member, Soybean Transportation Coalition executive committee member
Hometown: Greensburg, Ind.
Growing up: Helped on uncle’s farm and worked for local farmers
Past experience: Trained as a diesel mechanic and owned a livestock trucking company
Family: Wife, Jill; children, Rebecca, Luke, Logan and Caroline
No. 1 goal: Make farmers’ voices heard in Washington, D.C.
Notable: Simultaneously serves on multiple boards while growing his farm

Lund writes from West Lafayette, Ind.

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