Crop insurance, labor, and rural broadband are top of mind for Hoosier farmers as the House and Senate Ag Committees work to draft the 2023 Farm Bill.
These topics and more came up during a recent Indiana Farm Bureau Shop Talk meeting with Senators Mike Braun and Todd Young and Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman.
Tippecanoe County Farmer and INFB Board Member Kevin Underwood hosted the event and says crop insurance is his number one concern.
“My personal top concern would obviously be crop insurance. We went through our driest May and June combination in our area since 1988 and the only one that we tied with was the second driest year, which was around1895. It was extremely dry. We were literally on the edge of not having any chance of a crop at all if we wouldn’t have started catching rain at the very, very tail end of June,” he says. “So those kinds of things become very top of mind when you’re dealing with something that was that recent. We’re still right on the bubble if we don’t continue to get some rain on a regular basis of whether or not the crop is going to be what we need it to be to be able to make sure we’re paying all the bills. So that’s obviously got to be the number one concern. Second for us is we are involved in a lot of the cover crops on a lot of those kinds of things, trying to be as environmentally sensitive to the fact that we need to sustain the ground and be able to make it better as we move forward for future generations. Some of those kinds of partnering programs that we have through the farm bill in the conservation portion are extremely important.”
Underwood, a second-generation farmer in the northwestern part of Tippecanoe County, raises corn, soybeans, seed soybeans, seed wheat, popcorn, and specialty hogs.
Braun, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, says he’s starting to hear some common themes when it comes to producer concerns about the farm bill.  
“You want to make sure the farming portion of it is going to be represented and not change. You can tell that there’s concern that crop insurance stay in place. I see no reason to think that it won’t. Things never work quickly getting through Congress and I don’t know if it will get done by the end of our fiscal year. That’s something that needs to be changed in general, but we had a lot of good input. These are the people that do the hard work and seemingly a lot of time government works to make it even harder. Hopefully we can lighten that load a little bit.”
Braun says he wants farmers to know he’ll continue to listen to their concerns.
Young tells Brownfield there are several events in the state aimed at allowing farmers to provide feedback on the upcoming legislation.
“I want to make sure farmers and other rural Hoosiers know I’m fighting for them in Washington D.C. and pressing for their different priorities,” he says. “But more importantly, I want to listen to them and hear what I should be advocating for in this farm bill that might be a little different than the farm bill that was considered five years ago.”
Boozman, a senator from Arkansas, participated in several stops in the state on Monday.
“You all can be so proud. You’re such a huge farm state and really by any metric that you look at, you’re always right at the top as far as efficiencies and things like that,” he says. “We very much enjoyed looking at the facilities at Purdue and the new technology that they’re helping to bring about. And then, so importantly, I enjoyed visiting with farmers. I believe with all of my heart that the answer to our problems need to come from the ground up.”
As the largest general farm organization in the state, Indiana Farm Bureau hosts several shop talk events.
“We spend a big chunk of our calendar year working on policy from the grassroots all the way up to the national level,” Underwood says. “So, anytime we get the opportunity to rub shoulders with and be able to talk about these particular issues with our senators representing Indiana as well as congressman and state legislature, those are our opportunities that we are going to try to be first and foremost apart of.”