Fair, farm issues discussed at group meeting

The Jackson County fair and legislative issues involving farming were among topics discussed at the Jackson County Farm Bureau’s annual business meeting.

Members recently gathered at Pewter Hall in Brownstown. Indiana Farm Bureau District 10 officials including Director Robert Schickel and Regional Manager Allison Hines spoke.

Schickel spoke about the county organization’s building and exhibits at the county fair each year.

“You probably have one of the better if not best fairs in the whole state,” Schickel said.

He said it’s obvious local Farm Bureau members put a lot of work into the Farm Bureau Building, and the church activities and church support from the stands makes the fair better.

“You guys all work together as a group and a team, and it definitely shows,” he said.

Hines said a group of about 12 state and regional officials recently visited the Statehouse to meet with legislators.

“What’s really unique and an amazing part of what we have here in Indiana is that just average citizens like all of us can go up to our statehouse and meet with the people who are passing the laws that affect us,” she said.

She said Farm Bureau’s top legislative priority is farmland taxes this year.

“We are working hard — even this week — to continue to move legislation that would give you property tax relief as many of you will probably be paying property tax bills that are significantly higher this year than they were last year,” she said. “Farmers are going to have a harder time making ends meet. They are paying a higher share than any other group of property owners. We don’t think that’s right, and it’s definitely not fair.”

Other major areas Farm Bureau is working on at the Statehouse include forced annexation, water resources and increasing funding for rural schools, local roads and bridges.

One of the highlights of the meeting involved the winners of this year’s essay contest reading their essays. They were Jessica Blevins, an eighth-grader at Immanuel Lutheran School in Seymour, and Ethan Wischmeier, an eighth-grader at St. John’s Lutheran School, Sauers. The topic was “A Day in the Life of Agriculture.”

Trinity Lutheran High school students provided the entertainment, performing some songs from “Annie,” which was recently performed at the school.

Carolyn Shoemaker, Jackson County education and outreach coordinator, and county President Marjorie Bishop recognized 50-year voting members — Melvin Bishop, Darrell Dyer, Eugene Kruse, Paul Newkirk, Kenneth Plumer, Steven Schepman, Irving Wait and Howard Wente.

Election of officers was conducted, and Bishop was elected president, and Marcia Monroe was elected vice president. Delegates elected to the state convention were Nina Vehslage, Shoemaker, Brenda Ault and Marjorie Bishop.

Jackson County Farm Bureau had a membership of more than 2,500 in 2014.