The Indiana Department of Environmental Management may not be on your Christmas card list. Historically, some farmers and IDEM haven’t always seen eye to eye.
That attitude has taken a positive turn over the past decade. Julia Wickard believes the positive momentum will continue. She is the new ag liaison with IDEM. Wickard, Greenfield, is also a beef producer and a mom of an FFA member and future FFA members.
In this interview with Indiana Prairie Farmer, she begins to explain how IDEM and confined feeding operations fit together, and why both should co-exist.
When might farmers have a need to contact you directly? If that happens, how can they contact you? I will be accessible 24/7/365. I look forward to assisting all producers as they need answers from our agency. My contact information is [email protected]. My office number is 317-234-3386, and my work mobile number is 317-220-1619. I stand ready to serve the agricultural industry.
Thanks for being so open about how farmers can reach you. Next, what do you hope to accomplish in this position as director of government affairs and ag liaison for IDEM? It is my goal to build upon the great relationships which already exist between the agribusiness community and IDEM. Although I work for a regulatory agency, I also live on a farm and go home to it every night. Our farm and cattle operation is in Hancock County.
What are IDEM’s priorities when it comes to agriculture in Indiana? At IDEM and in all of Indiana state government, we know and appreciate that agriculture is a billion-dollar industry and is one of the primary pillars of economic development in the state of Indiana. IDEM has authorities delegated from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Some of those [authorities] involve regulating agricultural operations.
Are most of IDEM’s dealings only with concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)? Does IDEM mainly get involved when there are problems in an operation? IDEM’s permitting and compliance activities deal with both CFO [confined feeding operation] and CAFO-sized farms. While IDEM does conduct inspections in response to complaints or spill reports that indicate a problem, most of IDEM’s interactions are routine permit applications and compliance inspections. We can discuss this in more detail in future interviews, if you like.
Why is it important, if you think it is, for agriculture that IDEM exists in Indiana? What role does IDEM play? Agriculture is the sustainable industry. Sustainability is based on a simple principle: Everything that we need for our survival and well-being, either directly or indirectly, depends upon our natural environment.
Agriculture contributes directly to sustainable stewardship of the land, air and water. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, while fulfilling the food, feed and fiber needs of our country and the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations.
Read the first part in this series, “Ag gains new link to Indiana Department of Environmental Management.”