IBJNews

Indiana officials look to boost agriculture research

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The state's agriculture department under new Gov. Mike Pence is planning a push into the science behind food production by trying to build a network of university and commercial researchers for what's being called an Agriculture Innovation Corridor.

Pence included the initiative in his State of the State speech, and Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann said she has started talking with leaders from Purdue University and elsewhere about its prospects.

The concept comes from a report released last summer by BioCrossroads, an Indianapolis-based life sciences investment and development group supported by numerous companies and foundations.

That report highlighted what the group believes is an opportunity for Indiana to attract and encourage companies developing agriculture innovations. It points to the agriculture-related research being done at Purdue, along with existing companies such as Indianapolis-based Dow AgroSciences and Eli Lilly and Co.'s Elanco Animal Health.

"This is really an effort to try to be sure that we're in the very forefront of an initiative that we really can lead because we've got the right natural resources and the right companies here," said BioCrossroads President David Johnson, a former adviser to the late Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon.

While agriculture no longer has the over-arching impact across Indiana that it once did, some 680,000 jobs — about 19 percent of the state's workforce — in 2010 were tied to farm and farm-related businesses in rural communities, according to the BioCrossroads report.

The state hopes to boost the agriculture research initiatives while continuing its traditional promotion of farming and crop and livestock markets, said Ellspermann, who heads Indiana's agriculture agency as lieutenant governor.

"Connecting the dots between the business community, the startup community and the technologies is critical," she said.

BioCrossroads provides a possible guide for the Agriculture Innovation Corridor with its work encouraging medical-related research. The group has raised about $150 million in venture capital over the past decade for life-sciences companies, Johnson said.

"Where the state really helps is to make the policy receptive and to make the economic climate here one that really promotes that kind of growth," he said. "Then the private sector often brings the investment dollars to make it happen. I think that would probably happen here, too."

Ellspermann said some sources of state money would already be available if needed to help spur certain ventures. But she said whether additional funding will be sought for research facilities or other projects might not be known for a couple of years as business plans are developed.

The state agriculture department under former Gov. Mitch Daniels pushed for the construction of ethanol plants in the state and promoted increased hog production. While the Pence administration hasn't set such specific goals, it has been supportive on farmland tax concerns and other matters, Indiana Farm Bureau spokesman Andy Dietrick said.

The Agriculture Innovation Corridor could help the state's farmers, especially if it opens up new technologies and innovations sooner, Dietrick said.

"It is a very competitive business and farmers want to be on the front end of that," he said.

Republican state Rep. Bill Friend, who owns a hog farm in northern Indiana's Miami County, said he believed Indiana has an opportunity to attract more high-skill jobs in agriculture research.

"Technology has to keep improving as our population increases," Friend said. "We're not making any more land to raise crops on, so we have to have higher yields in order to feed the growing population not only in our country, but around the world."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

ADVERTISEMENT