Before she officially began her duties, Anne Hazlett told Indiana Prairie Farmer in an exclusive interview that one of her top priorities would be updating the strategic plan for the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Hazlett took over as executive director for ISDA in January. She's already started the process to fulfill that promise.
So far, she's been gathering input from various players in agriculture. Last week, ISDA held an industry roundtable for key leaders. The session was not open to the public, but three key topics were on the agenda. They included natural resources management, agricultural advocacy and economic development.
The first strategic plan was a seven-point document developed by ISDA soon after its creation by the legislature in 2005. That was during the first year of the Daniels Administration. Becky Skillman was Lt. Governor and Secretary of Agriculture, as she is today. Andy Miller, who recently accepted a position elsewhere within the Daniels administration was the first director of ISDA. Both he and Skillman vowed to put together a broad spectrum plan of work, called a strategic plan, as quickly as possible.
Within just weeks of creation of the department and naming of it by the Legislature, the plan was announced. Key parts were announced on an Indiana hog farm near Rushville, with both Skillman and Daniels in attendance. One of the specific goals out of the seven point plan was to double pork production; Their efforts have stirred up interest in both the positive and negative side of the livestock production business. More hog operations went up, but more animal rights activists seemed to crawl out of the woodwork than expected, especially in unlikely places like Randolph and Union Counties, which aren't heavily populated areas.
"This was a natural time to review the plan anyway, since the Governor's second term was beginning," Hazlett told Indiana Prairie Farmer in January. "We want to revisit the goals and make sure we are on the right track. Many things have changed in five years."
One change is the Division of Soil Conservation. Now part of ISDA, when the first strategic plan was put together, it still wasn't clear where that agency would land. Now that it is in ISDA and after the flood of '08 demonstrated how important soil conservation measures can be, Hazlett believes it's time to reevalaute the goal and direction of that effort.
Her time line for developing a strategic plan is again short. Sources say she hopes to unveil a strategic plan within 30 to 60 days, then begin pursuing the plan. Stay tuned here for more details.