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The Journal Gazette

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Monday, September 02, 2019 1:00 am

Five Questions for Susan Lawrence

Regional manager, Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc.

1. You represent a region, which includes Allen and six other northeast Indiana counties, that has always been a strongly agricultural area. How are farmers here doing during this challenging season?

There has been a lot of variation throughout the seven counties I represent when it comes to planting and crop progress this year. Farmers also are facing trade uncertainty and a down farm economy. Hoosier farmers are trying to remain optimistic and staying in contact with their peers and their elected officials to let them know what they're experiencing on the farm.

 

2. It would appear that many of this area's farm products are vulnerable in the tariff wars. Do farmers here support the government's strategy?

The tariffs have negatively impacted the price of commodities that Hoosier farmers produce on a large scale such as corn, soybeans and pork. I work with a lot of unique individuals and cannot speak for them. However, as a farmer's bottom line continues to be impacted, it gets harder to practice patience.

 

3. What are farmers doing to prepare for climate change? Will new crops and new growing strategies be necessary?

Modern farming techniques are rapidly improving how farmers care for the land and our natural resources. Today, we're seeing more no-till farming, an increase in the use of cover crops and more targeted nutrient application. Agricultural organizations, like Indiana Farm Bureau and others, as well as Purdue University are working hard to provide the tools farmers need to make agriculture sustainable well into the future.

 

4. We hear a lot about agribusiness operations. Does the family farm have a future in this region?

Not everyone has the ability to return to the farm full time. Many of those interested in the industry are joining or starting agribusinesses that support the farmers in our state. We're also seeing many family farms enter the space, whether by participating in farmers markets or creating agritourism destinations on their farms. These options help family farms diversify their income and offer another avenue to keep their businesses viable.

 

5. Farming as an occupation requires more skills than in the past, and involves a lot of uncertainties. What are its rewards?

There are many challenges and unknowns each year in a farming operation, but it is a very satisfying way to make a living. I often hear about the pride farmers feel when they raise and care for their livestock or when they witness a field go from seed to harvest. It's an honor and a privilege to care for the land and build up a successful operation in order to pass it down to the next generation.