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Farmers’ contributions to our economy go beyond Ag Appreciation Month

There are images, scents and sights that are close to the hearts and minds of Hoosiers whose lives are linked to agriculture.  The smell of spring. The miraculous moment a newborn calf makes its first attempt to stand.  The vision of a farmer fighting dusk and dodging raindrops to unload that last wagon of hay.  All are powerful scenes of the sometimes quiet force that is Indiana agriculture. Its contributions are countless, and though we celebrate them (often subtly) everyday, we now have a unique opportunity to truly relish them.  
March is “Agriculture Appreciation Month.”   And while it may compete with another Hoosier pastime, a good game of basketball, Indiana’s farmers have certainly proven they can handle a full court press during tough times.  
Our standings reflect the score and tell the story.  For example, do you know that when your children’s faces are spackled with spaghetti sauce, the tomatoes used in it likely come from Indiana? We’re second in the nation in tomatoes for processing.   The next time you savor a scoop of rocky ripple or butter pecan, consider that we are also second in the nation in ice cream production.  When you prepare pork chops, hamburgers, and chicken for the grill, are you aware of the efforts made by our Indiana family of farmers to ensure those backyard barbecue favorites are safe, affordable and nutritious?
Agriculture contributes $25 billion each year to Indiana’s economy, and it is critical to the future of our state and our ongoing efforts to achieve a complete economic rejuvenation.
At a time when it seems as if everyone is asked to do more with less, our Indiana farmers serve to remind us what can happen when we look at obstacles as opportunities.  Their efforts and attitudes are gaining global attention.  When we visit other countries, we know just how fortunate we are to have a strong agricultural industry and abundant, affordable food. America and the world are quite literally depending on the agricultural industry to thrive and grow. We’ve never lived in a time when so many depend on so few for their quality of life.
Our international trade missions have resulted in a number of success stories for Indiana agriculture, including potential corn and soybean export deals, jobs, and investment ventures in our state. These kinds of relationships are a direct reflection of the values and commitment of our Hoosier Ag community.
In this economic climate, we cannot afford to ignore any opportunity that would breathe new life into our communities and put Hoosiers back to work. And agriculture continues to be one of our strongest assets.
Indiana farmers are innovative, inspiring, giving of their hands, and humble of heart.  Each time I present our Hoosier Homestead awards, I gain a deeper understanding of those families who’ve cultivated their properties for more than a century.    
As we face new challenges and work together to overcome them, may we all be grateful for the rich heritage and high standards Indiana agriculture brings to that collaborative quest, not only this month, but always.  To Indiana’s family of farmers, and all that you represent, we salute you.

Lt. Governor Becky Skillman


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