Image of John Gregg (left) and Eric Holcomb (right) courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts.
While Indiana’s gubernatorial candidates agree the state’s ag sector remains strong, both are shining the spotlight on challenges facing the industry. Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb says much of his focus would be on sparking student interest in vocational and STEM programs at an early age. Democrat John Gregg says his priorities would include supporting rural communities with efforts including increased broadband access and infrastructure improvements.
Inside INdiana Business Host Gerry Dick interviewed the candidates during an event hosted by Indiana corn and soybean farmers Wednesday at the headquarters of the Indianapolis Colts, the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center.
Holcomb says growing ag in Indiana must be "an all hands on deck effort." He says his administration would tap into Indiana’s agriculture innovation initiative AgriNovus to help "harvest the energy" of universities, government agencies and corporations throughout the state. Holcomb says he would also ask Indiana Department of Agriculture Director Ted McKinney to take on a "duel role" by also representing the ag industry in the Indiana Economic Development Corp.
Gregg says, while a strong ag sector is crucial to Indiana’s rural areas, it’s important to the entire state as well. However, he says one of the state’s biggest challenges is keeping rural communities viable. Infrastructure improvements, he says, are a central part of that effort. Earlier this month, Gregg unveiled a $3.2 billion plan to address infrastructure needs throughout the state over the next 10 years. He says the strategy will fund road, airport, railroad and port projects without raising taxes.
The ag sector continues to be a growth area for Indiana. In March, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced plans to build one of the nation’s largest milk processing operations in Fort Wayne. Also that month, Krone North America detailed relocation plans from Tennessee to Shelbyville and the Newton County Commission and County Council approved an infrastructure project to support a proposed $230 million cheese manufacturing facility from Select Milk Producers and its flagship, Fair Oaks Farms.