Sonny Perdue talks about agriculture issues with Indiana farmers

By Abrahm Hurt and Christian Sullivan
TheStatehouseFile.com

INDIANAPOLIS — U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue discussed a new farm bill with a gathering of Indiana farmers that focused on getting fair prices for their produce.

Sen. Todd Young hands Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch a scorpion. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com

Perdue joined Gov. Eric Holcomb, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch and U.S. Sen. Todd Young in a roundtable discussion at the Indiana State Fairground with local farmers to get feedback on the 2018 farm bill, which is pending before Congress.

“Agriculture seems to be a target, and our message to the president and all of our secretaries of commerce and U.S. ambassadors from trade representative is, first of all, do no harm in agriculture,” Perdue said in a news conference. “Don’t use agriculture as a sacrificial lamb to get over things.”

During a roundtable discussion that was closed to the press and public, Perdue said that local farmers and leaders think it is important to create a safety net where farmers produce for the market rather than just a program.

“Don’t devise a program that makes people make uneconomic decisions of doing something that’s against their farming practices in order to get government payments,” he said. “That’s not what producers want. They want a good crop at a fair price, and that’s what we hope to do.”

Young said the group was diverse but was able to find agreement on some issues.

“Some of the things that were really emphasized where the importance of crop insurance, the need to pass a farm bill and build on the previous successes and successful reforms of earlier farm bills,” Young said. “Then lastly, it’s important to remain open to further information from our agriculture community and our rural communities as we work on infrastructure legislation.”

The Future Farmers of America members stand with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Sen. Todd Young, and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch. Photo by Eddie Drews, TheStatehouseFile.com

Joe Kelsay, government affairs manager at Dow Agrosciences and partner of Kelsay Farms, said he was pleased with what Perdue had to say at the roundtable discussion Tuesday. 

“It’s really great that the secretary of agriculture comes to the places where things happen,” Kelsay said. “The fact that he comes and wants to listen to what’s going on will keep him based in reality, connected to constituents and understanding how hot are certain issues.”

It was not all business for the politicians as they toured the fairgrounds. The tour started with a viewing of 4-H projects in Centennial Hall, then moved to the pavilion where the group was met by Future Farmers of America. 

In the pavilion, Perdue, Holcomb, Crouch and Young played miniature golf, petted farm animals, and played with a scorpion. One FFA member that accompanied Perdue on his tour was Grant Sanchez, 18, from New Paris, Indiana. 

Sanchez said the FFA members are excited for the opportunity to talk and interact with Perdue.

“It’s definitely a special day,” Sanchez said, “It’s not everyday that we get someone like Mr. Sonny Perdue here in the pavilion.” 

Christian Sullivan and Abrahm Hurt are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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