The newest attraction at the massive Fair Oaks Farms in northwest Indiana is already getting the attention of some of the biggest names in agribusiness. The grand unveiling last week of the WinField Crop Adventure brought in the likes of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture Ted McKinney and the Chief Executive Officer and board of directors of Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes Inc. "More and more, we’re seeing youth and even their parents that don’t know where their food comes from," McKinney said during an interview on Inside INdiana Business Television. He says the attraction is "an attempt to really help them understand all that’s behind that… The good parts and the threats." He says it’s important to spotlight what it will take to feed the ever-expanding world population.
McKinney says Fair Oaks fits in with other efforts promoting the Indiana ag sector — and the processes and innovations within it — because it has the ability to get and keep your attention. "They announced the next one is an egg-laying business for chickens, and eventually I think, they’re going to add other elements. A lodge, I think, is expected this fall or maybe next spring, so to a degree that can be a destination and an agritourism site, but all of it… and they’re very serious about this… all of it with helping people understand what it’s going to take to feed that nine, nine and-a-half billion by 2050 and they do a marvelous job of that." Details also emerged in March for a potential $230 million cheese facility on the sprawling property.
McKinney also touched on the state’s ag innovation initiative, AgriNovus Indiana, which he says is "continuing to clip along very well." He says the effort is designed to serve as a magnet for new business and a catalyst for relationships within the state. He says Indiana Grown, which is a "big tent" for promoting goods produced the state is also progressing and now has more than 500 members.