Governor Mike Pence and Secretary of Agriculture Sue Ellspermann appear to be serious about their effort to continue the outstanding relationship the Daniels Administration fostered with agriculture.
When the Indiana State Department of Agriculture was launched in 2005, both Daniels and then Secretary of Agriculture Becky Skillman made history by visiting a hog farm near Rushville to kick off the launch of the department. As far as anyone knew, it was the first time in decades that a sitting governor had visited a working hog farm.
Last week the Governor and Lt. Gov. included a visit to Jay Hawley and family's hog farm in Clinton County as part of a three-stop visit to get a feel for the ag economy in Indiana. They also visited Heartland Growers and Beck's Hybrids home location near Atlanta.
Hawley's farm is often referred to as Grandpa Jay's these days because he started a meat business by that name in 2006. He offers frozen cuts, all made from whole hog products, plus also cooks meat at two Farmer's Markets.
He sets up shop at the Noblesville Farmers market each week, and will be selling meat and serving food at the Statehouse Farmers Market when it opens in Indianapolis later this summer. The meat business has helped him add value-added income to his farming operation.
Hawley has 250 sows, and except for meat pigs and replacement gilts, sells the pigs after weaning at around 50 pounds to local finishers.
He's been active in the Indiana Pork industry for many years, and has also promoted trade activities. Hawley was a member of the very first Ag leadership Class carried out by the Indiana Ag Leadership Institute.
He also has a local radio show where he interviews people on subjects related to farming.
All of these factors combined made his farm a good choice for administration officials to see what the livestock industry looks like in Indiana when the producer cares about his animals, his product, and does a good job.