Photo Contest to Spotlight Indiana Agriculture

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is now accepting submissions for the 10th annual Indiana Agriculture photo contest, which was created to showcase the hard work and contributions made by Hoosier farmers. The contest is open to the general public and winning photographs will be featured during a ceremony at the 2017 Indiana State Fair.

Contestants are able to submit up to five photos in digital form (horizontal or vertical) and each photo must be accompanied by an entry form available on line. See link listed below. Entries must be submitted no later than June 30, 2017. All photos must be taken in the state by Indiana residents.

Participants are encouraged to submit photos that reflect the wide array of agriculture. The categories photos can be entered under are:
• Conservation: Highlighting Indiana’s natural beauty with photos of landscapes, water and wildlife.
• Agritourism: This category includes seasonal and agricultural destinations, orchards, wineries, farmers’ markets and produce photos.
• Faces of Agriculture: Featuring those who grow and produce food, fuel and fiber engaged in farming/agricultural activities.
• On the Farm: Every building, piece of equipment or activity that is a part of life on an Indiana farm can be included.

Contest winners will have their photographs featured in the Offices of the Lt. Governor’s Family of Business in Indianapolis. Winners will also be special guests during the Celebration of Agriculture taking place on Thursday, August 17, 2017 from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the Normandy Barn during the Indiana State Fair.

For entry and release forms, guidelines and criteria, visit www.in.gov/isda/2468.htm.

Reap the Seeds You Sow, the picture shown above was taken by Kristen Daily, one of last year’s photo contest winners.

ABOUT ISDA ~ The Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was established as a separate state agency by the Legislature in 2005. The Director is appointed by the Governor and is a member of the Governor’s Cabinet. Administratively, ISDA reports to Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. Major responsibilities include advocacy for Indiana agriculture at the local, state and federal level, managing soil conservation programs, promoting economic development and agricultural innovation, serving as a regulatory ombudsman for agricultural businesses and licensing grain firms throughout the state.

Join us June 20th for the Women’s Conservation Learning Circle at Ferndale House in New Harmony, Indiana. Located at 1223 South Main in quaint New Harmony, it’s the perfect place to begin the day. The Circle will focus on Pollinators and Non-Traditional Farming. To register, visit Eventbrite.com at www.w4lpollinatorprojects101.eventbrite.com or call the Posey County SWCD office at 812-838-4191, ext. 3.

Sonny Perdue Sworn in as 31st US Secretary of Agriculture

Sonny Perdue was sworn in as the 31st U.S. Secretary of Agriculture by fellow Georgian and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Clarence Thomas in a brief ceremony today at the Supreme Court building. The U.S. Senate confirmed Secretary Perdue by a vote of 87-to-11 on Monday evening. After Secretary Perdue took the oath of office, he addressed employees at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) before getting to work on his first day. Also this morning, USDA launched his official Twitter handle: @SecretarySonny.

“The only legacy that I seek is the only one that any grandparent or parent seeks – to be good stewards, and to hand off our nation, our home, our fields, our forests, and our farms to the next generation in better shape than we found it,” Perdue said. “Making sure that Americans who make their livelihoods in the agriculture industry have the ability to thrive will be one of my top priorities. I am committed to serving the customers of USDA, and I will be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.”

Perdue’s policies as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture will be guided by four principles which will inform his decisions. First, he will maximize the ability of the men and women of America’s agriculture and agribusiness sector to create jobs, to produce and sell the foods and fiber that feed and clothe the world, and to reap the earned reward of their labor. It should be the aim of the American government to remove every obstacle and give farmers, ranchers, and producers every opportunity to prosper. Second, he will prioritize customer service every day for American taxpayers and consumers. They will expect, and have every right to demand, that their government conduct the people’s business efficiently, effectively, and with the utmost integrity. Third, as Americans expect a safe and secure food supply, USDA will continue to serve in the critical role of ensuring the food we put on the table to feed our families meets the strict safety standards we’ve established. Food security is a key component of national security, because hunger and peace do not long coexist. And fourth, Perdue will always remember that America’s agricultural bounty comes directly from the land. And today, those land resources sustain more than 320 million Americans and countless millions more around the globe. Perdue’s father’s words still ring true: We’re all stewards of the land, owned or rented, and our responsibility is to leave it better than we found it.

“As secretary, I will champion the concerns of farmers, ranchers, foresters, and producers, and will work tirelessly to solve the issues facing our farm families,” Perdue said. “I am proud to have been given this opportunity and look forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting to work as we continue to move the USDA and our nation forward.”

Upon nominating Secretary Perdue in January, President Donald J. Trump said, “Sonny Perdue is going to accomplish great things as Secretary of Agriculture. From growing up on a farm to being governor of a big agriculture state, he has spent his whole life understanding and solving the challenges our farmers face, and he is going to deliver big results for all Americans who earn their living off the land.”

Sonny Perdue came by his knowledge of agriculture the old fashioned way: he was born into a farming family in Bonaire, Georgia. From childhood, and through his life in business and elected office, Perdue has experienced the industry from every possible perspective. Uniquely qualified as a former farmer, agribusinessman, veterinarian, state legislator, and governor of Georgia, he became the 31st United States Secretary of Agriculture on April 25, 2017.

Additionally, Perdue recognizes that American agriculture needs a strong advocate to promote its interests to international markets. The United States is blessed to be able to produce more than its citizens can consume, which implies that we should sell the bounty around the world. The relationship between the USDA and its trade representatives, as well as with the U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Commerce, will be vital. The work of promoting American agricultural products to other countries will begin with those relationships and will benefit us domestically, just as it will fulfill the moral imperative of helping to feed the world. Perdue has pledged to be an unapologetic advocate for American agriculture.

Under Secretary Perdue, the USDA will always be facts-based and data-driven, with a decision-making mindset that is customer-focused. He will seek solutions to problems and not lament that the department might be faced with difficult challenges.

As a youngster growing up on a dairy and diversified row crop farm in rural Georgia, Perdue never fully realized that the blessings of purposeful, meaningful work would serve him as well as they have in life. When he was a young boy feeding the calves and plowing the fields, he was an integral part of the workforce on his father’s farm. As the son of a mother who was an English teacher for 42 years, he benefitted from her teachings as well – not just by instilling in him the beliefs he still holds dear, but also by lending him an appreciation and respect for language and proper grammar. But more than anything in his life, it was the family farm which shaped Sonny Perdue. He has lived and breathed the exhilaration of a great crop and the despair and devastation of a drought. He learned by experience what his father told him as a child, “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.”

The work ethic cemented in him by his farming roots has remained with Sonny Perdue throughout his life. As a younger man, he served his country in the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of Captain. After earning a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Georgia, he put that training to use in private practice in North Carolina. As a member of the Georgia State Senate for eleven years, he eventually ascended to the position of President Pro Tempore as elected by his senate colleagues. As a two-term governor of Georgia, he was credited with transforming a budget deficit into a surplus, dramatically increasing the student performance in public schools, and fostering an economic environment that allowed employers to flourish and manufacturers and agricultural producers to achieve record levels of exports. He followed these accomplishments with a successful career in agribusiness, where he focused on commodities and transportation in enterprises that have spanned the southeastern United States. These experiences have proven invaluable in his current role as principal advocate for American agriculture and all that it serves.

Perdue is a strong believer in good government, in that it should operate efficiently and serve the needs of its customers: the people of the United States. As a state senator, he was recognized as a leading authority on issues including energy and utilities, agriculture, transportation, emerging technologies and economic development, and for his ability to grasp the nuances of complex problems. As governor, he reformed state budget priorities, helped Georgians create more than 200,000 new jobs, and promoted his home state around the world to attract new businesses. In 2009, the Reason Foundation’s Innovators in Action magazine recognized Perdue as a leader who “aggressively pursued new strategies to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of government and deliver better value at less cost to taxpayers.” In addition, he was named “Public Official of the Year” in October 2010 by Governing Magazine. To this day, his thoughts are never very far from the wishes of the citizens – the true owners of the government.

Perdue’s views on agriculture have always been shaped by his first-hand knowledge of all of its aspects, both as a farmer and as an agribusinessman. He appreciates the daily concerns and needs of American farmers, while also understanding the intricacies of global commodities markets. He is acknowledged as a national leader in agriculture, having served as a board member for the National Grain & Feed Association, and as President of both the Georgia Feed and Grain Association and the Southeastern Feed and Grain Association. Perdue has long-standing, close relationships with the leadership of the National Farm Bureau and has been recognized by the Georgia 4-H and FFA programs, among others, for his leadership in agriculture.

As the product of Georgia, a state where agriculture is the leading economic driver, Perdue recognizes that agriculture is an issue and industry which cuts across political party boundaries. He recognizes that the size, scope, and diversity of America’s agricultural sector requires reaching across the aisle so that partisanship doesn’t get in the way of good solutions for American farmers, ranchers, and consumers.

Perdue has been married to Mary Ruff Perdue for 44 years and has four adult children and fourteen grandchildren. He and his wife have served as foster parents for eight children awaiting adoption. Perdue remains a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot and avid outdoor sportsman.

You can follow Secretary Perdue on Twitter.

Federal Funds Put to Work Locally Through the Big Creek Watershed Cost-Share Program

Just to briefly introduce the idea of a watershed, it is an area of land where precipitation that falls on it drains to a common outlet. In the case of the Big Creek Watershed, this means that there are about 164,000 collective acres of Gibson, Posey, and Vanderburgh Counties (IN) that contribute surface water to the Big Creek. The common outlet for this land area is where the Big Creek meets the Wabash River, about 8 miles northwest of Mt. Vernon, Indiana. About 65% of the watershed’s land area is in Posey County, 26% in Vanderburgh County, and the remaining 9% is in Gibson County. It’s here, within the Big Creek Watershed, that federal grant funds are being put to work through the Big Creek Watershed Cost-Share Program.

The Big Creek Cost-Share Program is funded by a Section 319 grant that originates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA). The Section 319 program came about by an amendment to the federal Clean Water Act in 1987 that recognized the need to reduce non-point source pollution. Some examples of non-point source pollutants include: Road debris, oil drippings from automobiles, sediment from fields, or E-coli from failing septic systems that get washed from surfaces by rain or melting snow. These pollutants can then make their way into local streams and rivers where they can negatively impact wildlife habitat and human health. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) manages section 319 funds for the State and determines which Indiana Municipalities, Counties, or Organizations receive funding through an application and review process. Areas of that state that have been found to have significant pollution reduction needs take priority in IDEM’s decision making process. Due to local water quality impairment, funding for the Big Creek Watershed was secured in 2016 by the Posey County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Some Watershed programs focus more on urban areas but the Big Creek Cost-Share Program is only to be used to help pay for agricultural practices that help improve water quality. Since March of 2016, the cost-share program has used about $73,000 to help pay for the adoption of conservation practices in the watershed. This has included practices such as fall cover crops, heavy use area pads for livestock operations, and one Two-Stage ditch project. The program is expected to keep making cost-share payments until December of 2018 or until the money runs out. The Posey County SWCD is currently working on applying for additional Section 319 funds to supplement the original $175,000 allocated to the cost-share program.

There are 54 different practices that qualify for the cost-share program. In addition, the land that the practice is to be used on must be in a critical area of the watershed to qualify. Many of the particulars of the program are discussed at the public quarterly steering committee meetings. The Next meeting is scheduled for the evening of April 24th but a meeting location and time have not yet been confirmed.
Anyone with an interest in attending a steering committee meeting or in participating in the cost-share program is encouraged to contact Dennis L. Begeman, Big Creek Watershed Coordinator, Phone: 812-838-4191, Email: dennis.begeman@in.nacdnet.net

Southwest Regional Envirothon to be held at Toyota Visitor’s Center

The Southwest Regional Envirothon will be held Tuesday, March 14 at the Toyota Visitors Center, Princeton, IN. The event is hosted by the Posey, Gibson and Pike County SWCDs with assistance from other SW SWCDs.

The regional contest will be a little different this year. Instead of rotating through presentations on the five resources areas, the teams will split into two groups with half taking the test and half touring the Toyota plant. The teams will switch after a lunch featuring Toyota speakers. The event wraps up with an awards ceremony.

Teams of five high school students representing a school or organization compete at the contest by answering questions and building awareness in students by testing their knowledge of environmental resources including soils, water, forestry, wildlife and a current topic. A team can be coached by any adult that is interested in working with the high school students. The Indiana Academic Standards are taken into consideration in the construction of Indiana’s Envirothon Competition and are covered in part or fully at each contest, which is an environmental learning event. The Posey SWCD sponsors teams from Posey County by paying their fees for the regional contest. The deadline to register is February 24, 2017.

The top teams from each Regional Contest are invited to compete at the Indiana State Envirothon Contest. The 2017 state contest will be held Wednesday, April 26th at Camp Illiana, Washington, IN. The top winner from the State Contests is invited to attend the NCF Envirothon Contest to be held July 23 to July 29 at Mount St. Mary’s University, Emmitsburg, Maryland. For additional details call Jeri Ziliak at 812-838-4191, ext 3 or e-mail to jeri.ziliak@ in.nacdnet.net. Additional information is also available at http://iaswcd.org under events.

Local Conservation Project Receives International Attention

In 2014, the Vanderburgh and Posey County Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) decided to build a two-stage ditch in Southwest Indiana. They started seeking funds and were awarded a Clean Water Indiana (CWI) grant and a grant from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to complete this seemingly simple project. A planning committee was formed including Carrie Parmenter (Posey SWCD Technician), Mark Abell (Vanderburgh County SWCD Water Quality Specialist), Linda Voglund (Indiana State Department of Ag Resource Support Specialist), Brad Smith (The Nature Conservancy Lower Wabash and Wetlands Program Director) and Paul Breeze (then Posey County Surveyor). This committee spent countless hours researching possible locations for the two-stage ditch. Eventually, Metz Lateral was agreed upon as the location because of the proximately to a road, legal drain status and severity of the bank erosion.

The next step was to secure permission from the landowners. A meeting was held with landowners, Vectren Energy and Tom Metz, and the operators, Marvin Redman and Steve Reineke, to explain the project. Everyone was enthusiastic about the project and welcomed having the creek stabilized.

The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) volunteered to survey and design the two-stage ditch. After the initial survey, the design plan became complicated by the fact that the lower reaches of the stream became too deep and wide to make a two-stage ditch feasible. Eventually the design was able to be completed by Scott Wagner, NRCS Area Engineer, but approximately 750 feet remained untouched at the outlet of Metz Lateral.

The Posey County SWCD began applying for additional funding to stabilize the remaining 750 foot section. After being denied in 2015 and reapplying in 2016, the SWCD was awarded a Lake and River Enhancement grant (LARE) to design and build a stabilization structure on the southern end of Metz Lateral. The Nature Conservancy, the Posey County Drainage Board and the Posey County SWCD also contributed to the stabilization project. Wetland Services was awarded the bid to do the design/build on the lower section by the Drainage Board. The stabilization project has been surveyed and is currently being designed. Installation is anticipated in the summer of 2017.

In addition to the two-stage ditch and the stabilization project, the landowners and operators have utilized the Big Creek 319 Grant to install filter strips along the tops of the banks and plant cover crops last fall. The Big Creek 319 Grant was also used to pay for some additional expenses of the two-stage ditch that were not covered by the CWI grant.

In November, 2016, the two-stage ditch portion of Metz Lateral was completed and a workshop to showcase the project drew in 50+ participants. After this successful workshop, the International Society of Soil and Water Conservation announced they were seeking presenters for the 2017 Annual Conference which is to be held in Madison, WI in July, 2017. Scott Wagner and Carrie Parmenter approached the Society to see if they would be interested in the Metz Lateral project.

The International Society of Soil and Water Conservation did select the Metz Lateral Conservation project to be presented at the Annual Conference. This unique experience of 14 different private, corporate and government partners working together to create a comprehensive conservation project will be presented to the international audience this summer.

Anyone wishing to see the project can find an informational sign on the Pfieffer Road bridge in central Posey County or you can contact the Posey or Vanderburgh County SWCD offices for more information.

Big Creek Watershed Cost-Share Funding is Going Well

In January of 2016, the Posey County Soil & Water Conservation District was awarded a Section 319 Grant by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. The purpose of the grant is to fund soil and water conservation measures within the Big Creek Watershed. There are two ways in particular that these funds are used to do this. The first way is to fund a public outreach and education program that encourages behaviors that protect soil health and water quality. Second, the funds are used for a cost-share program that funds agricultural best management practices that help to protect soil and water quality.

So far, of the $33,498 that have been used to help fund agricultural best management practices, $22,992 have been used to fund cover crops that have been planted on nearly 1235 acres. The remaining $10,506 was used to help fund a Two-Stage Ditch project that was the product of a collaborative effort between the Vanderburgh and Posey County Soil & Water Conservation Districts. Aside from what has already been funded, applications for another $17,028 worth of projects are being processed. About $4,822 of these are for livestock practices and the remaining $12,206 are to fund about 400 acres of additional cover crops.

The Big Creek Watershed drains portions of Gibson, Posey, and Vanderburgh Counties. About 65% of the watershed lays in Posey County, 26% lays in Vanderburgh County and the remaining 9% lays in Gibson County. At this point, about 80% of the funded projects are in Posey County with the remaining 20% in Vanderburgh County and no current projects in Gibson County. Ideally, the program would like to fund each of the three Counties proportionally according to their land area within the Big Creek Watershed. In order to help promote the program in way that encourages proportional participation, a targeted mailing campaign is scheduled for the winter of 2016/2017. Anyone with interest in the Big Creek Watershed program is encouraged to contact Dennis L. Begeman, Big Creek Watershed Coordinator at (812) 838-4191 or dennis.begeman@in.nacdnet.net.