Indiana Agriculture & Rural Development – Resources and Trends.
By: Bob Grewe
I did not know what topic I wanted to pursue for an APA-IN Southern Region event, but I did know where I wanted to host it.
Twenty plus planners, community developers, and state/federal staff, gathered at Spring Mill State Park on Friday November 21 for a mid-day program entitled Indiana Agriculture & Rural Development – Resources and Trends.
The presentations were enlightening but the highlight of the event had to be the wall of windows in the conference room, overlooking the Spring Mill woods and the home-style lunch we shared.
Our event began with yours truly introducing Mark Young, the property manager for Spring Mill State Park. Mark shared insights into the park’s operation and history. He noted the park is home to the Gus Grissom Memorial and the spacecraft from Grissom’s Gemini 3 space flight, nicknamed by Grissom the “Molly Brown” (which the Smithsonian Institution would love to have). See link for more info on the park’s history and events. http://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2968.htm
Our first presenter was Connie Neininger, Economic Development Program Manager, Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Connie presented a comprehensive overview of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Considering that many Indiana county zoning maps are predominantly zoned agriculture, Connie’s remarks framed the variety of existing activities taking place and future opportunities for Indiana’s agriculture sector. Click here to review Connie’s slides.
The next presenter was Aly Wells, Program Manager, Policy & Regulatory Affairs, Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Aly provided an overview of the following Indiana Land Resources Council Guidance Documents:
- Model Agricultural Zoning Ordinances
- State vs. Local Regulatory Authority
- Planning for Agri-tourism
- Cost of Community Services Study
These model documents are an excellent resource to help address such topics in local zoning codes. Click here to review Aly’s slides.
Following lunch we planned to take a short hike in the park. However the weather was brisk and the desserts were plentiful, so we elected to stay indoors.
Following lunch Logan Garner, Program Manager, Water Quality Initiatives, Sediment Control and Water Quality shared an overview of Indiana’s award winning efforts to address sediment control and water quality. Indiana’s forward thinking efforts are getting notices and Indiana staff are being asked to share their success stories with other states. Click here to review Logan’s slides.
Batting cleanup, Mark Beckman, Business Programs District Director, USDA, Rural Development provided overviews of selected Rural Development Programs.
Mark began by sharing remarks about the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). REAP can provide funding resources to assist with purchasing renewable energy systems and improvements to a facility or process that reduces energy consumption.
Project funding can range from $2,500 to $500,000. Click here to review Mark’s slide on REAP.
Next Mark shared summary information on Rural Development’s Business and Industry Loan Program (B&I). The B&I program is designed to bolster the existing private credit structure through the guarantee of quality loans that will provide lasting community benefits. The loan guarantee can help to increase the feasibility of business development projects and often serve as key component of business development plans. Click here to review Mark’s slides on Business and Industry Loan Program
Lastly, Mark presented information on Rural Development’s Value-Added Agriculture Program. The purpose of the Valued-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) is to provide funds for business planning activities or eligible working capital expenses:
- To help agricultural producers enter into value-added activities related to the processing and marketing of agricultural products
- To expand markets for, and increase financial returns to agricultural producers
- To strengthen the rural economy
A key consideration to program eligibility is the definition of a agricultural producer: An individual or entity that produces an Agricultural Commodity through participation in the day-to-day labor, management, and field operations; or that has the legal right to harvest an Agricultural Commodity that is the subject of the VAPG project. Click here to review Marks’s slides on the Valued-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) Program.
Thanks again to Hoosier Energy for helping to sponsor our meeting room and lunch. Also thanks to the staff at the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the USDA Rural Development for their presentations.