The Indiana Farm Bureau is focusing on four general topics for the 2023 legislative session: rural viability, energy, taxes and food security.
Specifically, they want to focus on bills involving rural broadband, public health funding, farmland preservation, property tax assessments and ESG standards to name a few.
Jeff Cummins, the director of state and government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau, said while it’s early in the session and they’re still working through all the filed bills, he feels confident that some of their wants will be met.
“I think at least as it comes to broadband and public health, and those kinds of things, that they're not just our priorities, there the priorities of many, there's a lot of momentum,” he said. “There are a lot of public health focused bills that have been filed as well. And so I think the odds are fair.”
At the moment though, Cummins says it’s a matter of ‘assessing the battlefield’ to see where bills of interest fall and if any surprises will come up that need extra attention.
One bill that the Farm Bureau wants to defeat for a second time is SB-451 relating to carbon sequestration. That is the process where companies capture CO2 they release and inject it deep into the earth’s crust.
“This is a Senate bill that just dropped this week where it's not real friendly to property rights with these other projects that that we mentioned,” he said. “They'll have to notify landowners they'll have to get permission to use their pore space. And the use of that pore space will come with compensation. Those are the right things.”
There’s also a concern about environment, social and governance standards or ESG. Cummins said that tracking the emissions on a farm would require an extra team and be disruptive to operations.
“For us, we're concerned about the ‘E,’ because if the companies our members sell to, food companies, etc., are subjected to these burdensome compliance,” he said.
This is only the start of what will be a very busy season for Cummins and the Farm Bureau until at least April 29.
“We've got many, many weeks of consideration of all kinds of bills,” he said. “All kinds of proposals, spending proposals. And, so there'll be a lot of engagement from our membership.”
Cummins encourages members to get active and advocate for the bills they do and don’t want to see become law.