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Indiana Legislature Prioritizes Agriculture: Noteworthy Funding Increases Unveiled
Indiana Ag Connection - 05/25/2023

The 2023 Indiana General Assembly legislative session brought significant changes in funding for Clean Water Indiana, but there were other notable funding increases for agencies serving agriculture that flew under the radar. Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. commended its members for advocating these needs, acknowledging the progress made during the session while expressing gratitude to legislators for their support of the agricultural industry.

Here are the key developments from the 2023 legislative session that deserve attention:

1. Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency: Previously funded through the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) budget, the agency now has its own line-item appropriation. While the funding amount remains similar, this change allows the agency to explore additional funding opportunities for software updates and staffing enhancements.

2. Purdue Extension County Staff: County agricultural Extension educators received a raise in their salaries thanks to increased state funding. Along with federal and local government contributions, the annual appropriation for county ag Extension educators rose to $8 million per fiscal year, an increase of $512,184 per fiscal year.

3. Purdue Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL): The ADDL program at Purdue received a boost in annual appropriations, with an increase of $1,288,439 in each fiscal year. Additionally, the Legislature allocated $5 million for laboratory upgrades at ADDL facilities, benefiting both the West Lafayette campus and the Southern Indiana Purdue Agricultural Center near Dubois.

4. Board of Animal Health: Funding was provided for three poultry veterinarian positions within the Board of Animal Health (BOAH). These positions are crucial for proactive disease management, such as avian flu, and to address future retirements within the agency.

5. Public Health Funding: Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB) actively supported increased funding for rural health, aligning with one of Governor Eric Holcomb's priorities. The Legislature approved $225 million in new funding over a two-year period for rural health departments, allowing county health departments the option to offer innovative services that require funding.

6. Health Plan Options: Legislative adjustments were made to the legislation that enables INFB to offer health coverage to single proprietors. These changes aim to improve the program's cost management and ensure its continued success.

These funding increases highlight the Indiana Legislature's commitment to supporting and strengthening agricultural infrastructure in the state. By investing in key areas such as grain buyers, Extension services, disease diagnostics, animal health, public health, and health plan options, Indiana aims to foster a thriving agricultural sector that benefits farmers, rural communities, and the overall economy.

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