Don Zolman, Warsaw trys to keep his ear to the ground when it comes to big-picture issues that could affect agriculture and his ability to farm profitably down the road. He has experience working with organic producers and other specialty enterprises.
Currently, Zolman sees a potentially troublesome issue arising that could affect soybean markets in northern Indiana in the long run. A proponent of alternative energy, including biodiesel made from soybeans, he follows developments closely.
A couple years ago Louis Dreyfus was hailed as a big boon when it decided to locate a huge bio-diesel production plant near Claypool in northeast Indiana. It brought economic activity to an area that wasn't particularly activity in economic circles before the plant arrived.
Based on observations he's made recently, here is a letter Zolman wishes to share with other Hoosier farmers. To speed up delivering it to you, it's appearing here on the Web rather than in the magazine. If you have comments, please respond to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The concern stems from a ruling that because Louis Dreyfus is foreign-owned, it doesn't qualify for a rural subsidy grant competitors with American ownership can pursue, Zolman reports.
To the editor:
"It has come to my attention a situation that should be of concern to all Hoosier producers. Louis Dreyfus is being discriminated against because of foreign ownership.
Louis Dreyfus has invested nearly $200 million dollars in the Claypool Indiana Biodiesel plant. They employ nearly 100 people at that location, along with a hundred more in support industries. Their presence has improved soybeans basis levels for Indiana farmers and lowered the cost of bean meal for Indiana livestock and poultry producers.
Louis Dreyfus has been a good neighbor, and ahs been very much involved in our community. They are a prime example of rural development as the little town of Claypool has begun to grow and the elementary school that was closed several years ago, is preparing to reopen this fall.
Louis Dreyfus provides a huge market for Indiana soybeans. Indiana producers should show their support by writing a letter to their legislators or making phone calls to stop this shabby treatment of a company that has put its money where its mouth is to support Indiana agriculture.
If Louis Dreyfus invested in a plant in another country, produced biodiesel elsewhere and then shipped it here, I could understand the logic behind excluding them from this program (other biodiesel producers benefit from). That is not the case. They have put themselves on the line by investing in the U.S., and they deserve our support in receiving whatever funds are made available to others in the same industry. To do otherwise sends a signal to foreign investors that we don't want them or their jobs here. I believe that is the wrong message to send, Thank you."
Zolman Farms, Warsaw