As a lifelong Hoosier I have always had a deep appreciation for all the work our state’s 94,000 farmers do to ensure we have a safe and abundant food supply.
But since I began my role as lieutenant governor and secretary of agriculture, my appreciation has only grown stronger.
Agriculture is big business in Indiana, contributing an estimated $31.2 billion to our economy and employing over 180,000 Hoosiers. While March was National Agriculture Month, a time to celebrate ag, Hoosiers have great reasons to celebrate this robust sector of our economy every month of the year.
Agriculture is an around-the-clock, 24/7, 365-days-a-year business. In the spring, livestock is born and crops are planted. The summer months bring wheat harvest, fairs and locally grown produce to enjoy. In autumn, we begin to see farmers working in fields, harvesting the year’s soybean and corn crops.
One of my favorite things to do during the fall is visit a local orchard for some fresh apple cider and pick mums and pumpkins for my home.
Through the winter agriculturists remain busy caring for their livestock and preparing next year’s crop.
Indiana agriculture never stops.
It is through the hard work and resiliency of our farmers and agribusinesses that we have such an affordable, bountiful and nutritious food supply. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, we saw consumers frantically entering grocery stores to stock up and ensure they could feed their families. This put a spotlight on the agriculture industry.
While we uncovered some opportunities to better our food supply system, we also were able to spotlight how agriculturists persevered and continued planting and raising food for families across our state, country and world.
This year’s National Ag Day theme was “Food brings everyone to the table,” and I could not think of a better way to phrase it. The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the cars we drive and nearly everything in between is dependent on agriculture.
In Indiana, we are proud to be the 10th largest farming state in the nation and a leader in corn, tomato, soybean, hog and egg production, just to name a few.
Even as March and National Ag Month fade in the rearview mirror, let us not stop celebrating and learning about Hoosier agriculture and our food system. I encourage Hoosiers to reach out to a farmer in their area if they have questions about how their food is grown or raised.
Hoosiers could also visit a local farmer’s market to enjoy locally sourced produce and show support to their neighboring farmers. Agriculture has a rich history in Indiana, rooted in family, innovation and conservation.
I am certain that with continued appreciation, awareness and understanding, Hoosier agriculture will continue to flourish for many generations to come, giving us countless more reasons that every month is agriculture month in Indiana.