Will your grandkids look back and say '07 was a transitional year for a turning point in Indiana agriculture? Or will they then know it was a mirage, with better expectations than could be met. The final chapter has yet to be written, and we can hope for the former outcome. In the meantime, it's worth looking back at key developments in Indiana agriculture in the past year.
Like at a hog show, this list is just one man's opinion- yours truly. You can jumble it however you like- make additions, take things out. But here goes.
#10- GINA holds Indiana Livestock Forum- This early December event featured Wes Jamison, a University of Florida animal welfare expert, who painted a pointed picture of coming battles between urbanites and livestock producers, primarily over how livestock should be cared for. His message was ominous, but laced with hope if producers step up.
#9- Beth Bechdol leaves Indiana State Department of Agriculture- Also near the end of the year, Beth Bechdol, deputy director to Andy Miller, ISDA's director, resigned. She was there from the beginning at ISDA. She later announced she would help start a new emphasis on ag law at a major Indianapolis law firm- Ice Miller. Ken Klemme was named to replace her.
#8- FSA offices merge- This long-awaited development also wasn't official until near the end of the year. Nine county offices will close, and merge with other counties, FSA director Ken Culp says. More than two years in the making, it became official when Chuck Conner approved the change.
#7- Chuck Conner named Acting Secretary of Agriculture- Benton County native Chuck Conner took the reins of USDA last fall when Mike Johanns resigned. Conner ahs made countless announcements, and doled out millions of dollars since his appointment. A new secretary has been nominated, but not yet confirmed.
#6- Madison County dairy draws support- A Madison County dairyman, who came to the U.S. six years ago from Europe, drew a roomful of supporters, not protesters, at a local zoning hearing as he applied to expand. Later, Lt. Governor Skillman joined him in ceremonial groundbreaking on his farm.
#5- Indiana State Fair expands schedule- For fair lovers, there will be five additional days beginning in '09. The new format will include three weekends. In other fair news, fair officials moved forward with plans to relocate The Barn inside the grounds.
#4- World's largest soy biodiesel plant opens- Louis Dreyfuss had to increase size of the plant slightly at the last minute to make sure the plant, near Claypool, would be the largest plant. It opened in September.
#3- Forage crisis drives hay sky high- A spring freeze and summer drought caused expected forage supplies to tumble, sending hay to as high as $8.50 per small square bale, or higher. Many cattlemen reacted by baling up corn stalks and soybean stubble.
#2- Drought grips southern Indiana- Super-good corn yields were harvested in western Indiana, with yields below 100 bushels per acre common in parts of eastern and south-central Indiana. Stingy rainfall coupled with 40 days of 90 degree F heat or higher led to poor yield. Yet overall, state average corn yield per acre was up, while soybean yield was down.
#1- Property tax fiasco- Nothing touches this story. Promising relief last session, the legislature did little to offset what was a fiasco in the making, with most counties sending out bloated property tax bills very late. Now all eyes are on the legislature again.