KIRKLIN, Ind. — There are three reasons that would make
65-year-old Jay Hawley — known as “Grandpa Jay” — quit raising hogs.
Age and economics, “but the big one is going to be
regulations,” he said. “I’m a small producer. I don’t have somebody that can
take care of all the paperwork, I mean the ridiculous part of me supposedly
going through my barns once a week and writing down that I went through my barns
and noticed nothing was wrong or I fixed it.”
“We do it twice a day, but we don’t write it down, and
that’s the frustrating part for me,” he explained. “I think I do a good job. I
think I maintain it. We have no problems environmentally, with doing things
right. But I’m afraid sometime inspection-wise, that’ll be my biggest downfall,
that we don’t have the paperwork right.”
Hawley gave a tour of his farm in Kirklin to state officials
as they visited four diverse enterprises in central Indiana to celebrate
Agriculture Appreciation Month. They also toured hardwood manufacturer Miller
Veneers in Indianapolis, the Heartland Growers greenhouse facilities in
Westfield and the Beck’s Hybrids seed company in Atlanta earlier that
As they chatted with agriculture representatives in Hawley’s
living room, Gov. Mike Pence amplified the farmer’s point.
“I don’t hear you complaining about regulation. What I hear
you complaining about is the paperwork,” he said. “Frankly, walking through your
barn, despite the unavoidable aroma, I was very impressed with how clean it was
and bright. You’re talking about actually the paperwork and the details that a
larger operation can absorb more easily, more readily than a smaller operation.”
“I know I’m not doing anything wrong, but the word IDEM just
strikes terror in your heart,” Hawley said, citing inspections from the Indiana
Department of Environmental Management. “I know where I put my manure on the
fields. I know how much I’m putting it on.”
“If you want to put up a new building, you hire a lawyer to
get that permit — I don’t think that was ever intended, to make it that kind of
difficult to be able to put up a new hog barn,” he added.
“When we started farming here, the hogs were my part of the
operation, and dad took the crops. Whenever I wanted to expand, at that time the
neighbors didn’t care if I put up another barn. I wasn’t competing with them for
“I was expanding right here, and I wasn’t making any
neighbors mad trying to overbid them on rent or anything like that. That was a
neat thing about raising hogs at that time. But it’s all changed.”
Co-Alliance swine production manager Sam Moffitt said he
also is worried about unfair and overly burdensome environmental
“Here in the state, IDEM have done a really good job — I
worry more about what may come from the federal area, which we never know,
especially with the current administration, that we might get more,” he said. “I
just hope that Indiana stands up for what we do best and keeps the feds out of
Labor is another big issue for farming, said pigs-only
veterinarian Max Rodibaugh of Swine Health Services in Frankfort.
“A real concern of ours is immigration reform, really
getting it right,” he said. “Agriculture is in desperate need of just people to
work on farms.”
Vocational education and, in particular, careers in
agriculture should be emphasized, agreed Jeff Rodibaugh, chairman of the Indiana
Pork Advocacy Coalition and ag lender at First Farmers Bank and Trust.
“We’ve got to make these ag jobs a priority for these kids
that may work better with their hands than they do with the books,” he said.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are championing our ag programs in our
Hawley touted the skills that can be gained through
“It really is an important training ground for people,
whether they go into ag or not. That’s where I learned to speak and
parliamentary procedure and how to deal with meetings and how to deal with
people,” he said. “FFA has expanded so much — it’s much more than just
The governor noted he is signing legislation to establish
regional working groups to design high school curriculum, a unique measure
intended to help make Indiana a national leader in education.
“That will give young people relevant curriculum career
pathways in high school for jobs that are available in their area,” Pence said.
“I’m somebody that believes that every one of us has different God-given gifts
and abilities — what education ought to be about is peeling back the onion
layers and letting our kids figure out where their passion is.”
Mike Beard works with his son, David, and son-in-law, Chris
Pearson, on Meadow Lane Farms in Frankfort, finishing 35,000 hogs a year, as
well as operating a custom waste application business.
He previously served Indiana Pork and the Indiana Soybean
Alliance and now is a board member of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council and the
United Soybean Board, which represents soybean growers across the nation.
“I’ve had some opportunities through that to talk with other
states,” he said, “how jealous they are, that Indiana is pro-agriculture
Pence said he is committed to agriculture for two reasons.
First, he grew up in a small town in southern Indiana with a cornfield in his
backyard, and as a teenager, his family had cattle.
“My dad and a couple business partners cleared land. I spent
the longest summer of my life picking up sticks — I’ve done it,” he said. “That
was when I had my first personal experience working in and around, at least,
In addition, during the 12 years that Pence was in Congress,
he served six years on the House Committee on Agriculture.
“I really got a sense of the enormous contribution that
people of the United States have made historically in encouraging an affordable
and sustainable food supply in this country,” he said, explaining his
appreciation for farmers is more than just some romanticized view of
Whether a person is in business in the city or on the farm,
at an office desk or in a cornfield, they have to be successful businesspeople,
“We recognize the enormous economic implications of
agriculture in Indiana,” the governor said. “I like to say to people, Indiana is
a lot of things, but Indiana is agriculture, at our very core. I think it
adheres to our identity. The work ethic and character of the people of Indiana,
I think, derives out of our heritage close to the soil.
“But also Indiana is agriculture because it’s a $26-billion
industry in the state. To the extent that Indiana has been able to weather some
difficult times, particularly since the downturn of 2007, 2008 and beyond, is
directly related to the muscular strength of our agricultural economy.”
“One of the great accomplishments of the last administration
was making the commitment to not just make Indiana an ag state, but make Indiana
a pro-agriculture state,” he added, praising former Gov. Mitch Daniels, who now
is the president of Purdue University.
“I don’t know how you quantify this, but I’ve been told by
people far afield from Indiana that we are widely considered after the progress
of the last eight years to be the most pro-agriculture state in the country
because we celebrate agriculture, we encourage it, we promote greater diversity
in our agricultural economy, expanded export opportunities.
“Our entire administration is committed to continuing in
that output, believing that, No. 1, agriculture is the core identity of our
state as we approach our 200th anniversary, but also in terms of us achieving
our goal of having more Hoosiers going to work than ever before in our state’s
history, that we really see agriculture and the sector you all represent as a
leading part of making the state more prosperous and more successful than it’s
ever been before.”
Indiana is a leader in hog production, ranking fifth in the
country, said Indiana State Department of Agriculture director Gina
“What’s unique about Jay’s farm and the reason that we
showcased this farm today on the tour is because Jay and Sue do diversified
agricultural production,” she said, noting the family enhanced its production
business to start Grandpa Jay’s Pork in 2006 and sell meat at farmers markets
and restaurants. “Jay saw a niche in the market and an opportunity while being
in a large industry to really grow a business.”
Indiana also is a leader in local food initiatives, Sheets
said. While farmers markets grew 9 percent in the U.S., Indiana enjoyed a
whopping 27-percent growth, expanding on the state’s 40-percent to 50-percent
increase in the prior year, she said.
“We want to continue to support the great growth we’ve seen
in pork,” Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann vowed. “We want to find those new markets,
whether they’re international or local or both.
“We see agriculture in Indiana as the backbone of the state
— so important. There are great opportunities, and we want to help make more
possible for you.”