Indiana is home to more than 60,000 farms spanning 15 million acres and growing more than 30 different fruits and vegetables, including corn and soybeans.
Meanwhile, in the tenth-largest farm state of the U.S., in a country that prides itself on feeding the world – Indiana hardly feeds itself. Hoosiers spend $16 billion per year buying food, $14.5 billion of which is sourced outside of the state.
Indiana imports an estimated 90 percent of its food. Because of this, it is not unusual for a meal in Indiana to travel 1,500 miles or more to reach the consumer, which may have an effect on nutritional value and taste. Consumers are faced with challenges every day, but their choice of food should not be one of those challenges.
In early 2014, State Representative Matthew Leham authored and introduced House Bill 1039 to improve the Indiana Grown program. Passing the House and Senate unanimously, the legislation called to action a 12-member commission that would be appointed by Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann and chaired by ISDA Director Ted McKinney.
“The enhanced Indiana Grown program will increase economic activity through the sale of Indiana products,” Director McKinney says. “Consumers will more fully understand how their choice to purchase foods from Indiana farms will positively impact their local economy. Producers and growers of local foods gain a stronger foundation in the state with the development of sufficient resources to grow local markets and build lasting infrastructure that creates even greater local efficiencies.”
Indiana’s strong agricultural heritage will be preserved and will thrive with the enhancement of the Indiana Grown program, which will promote nutritious locally grown foods, local employment opportunities, and economic growth, while building sustainable communities.
The new program, including a possible name change, is expected to debut in mid-2015, pending funding approval from the Indiana General Assembly.