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Bill To Preserve Farmland Passes In Committee

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Agriculture, Environment, Government, Statewide News
(FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik/IPB News)
(FILE PHOTO: Annie Ropeik/IPB News)

A proposal hopes to stop farmland from disappearing in Indiana. The American Farmland Trust says more than 500,000 acres of farmland in the state was developed over the past 30 years.

The bill, authored by Rep. Patrick Bauer (D-South Bend), would direct the Indiana Department of Agriculture to create a program that would let farmers preserve their agricultural land and keep it from being developed into a subdivision or for an industrial use.

Bauer says there’s been talk of putting more manufacturing near the Michigan-Indiana border, which he says is prime farmland.

“We need to save the fertile ground we have,” he says.

Bauer says that also means keeping industrial companies from polluting that prime land.

Justin Schneider is the director of state government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau. He says if the bill becomes law, you’d likely see only parcels of land being preserved instead of whole agricultural communities.

“I think the real value in this bill is that it’s getting the conversation going again. Because it’s been a while since we’ve had that conversation in Indiana,” Schneider says.

The bill passed committee on Thursday.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.