State Sen. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), reports that his legislation to support local farmers passed the Senate on Jan. 21 by a vote of 45-1.
Banks says Senate Bill 179 would lessen regulatory roadblocks on small Hoosier poultry farms to help them sell their products locally. Currently, many of these small farms are unable to sell directly to consumers or large-scale vendors. Banks says his bill would expand farmers' opportunities by allowing them to sell to restaurants, grocery stores and at farmers markets and roadside stands.
"Agriculture and small businesses are the backbone of Indiana's economy, and this legislation frees both enterprises from burdensome regulations that make it harder for them to turn a profit," Banks says. "My legislation would open new markets for Hoosier farmers, creating the potential for long-term networks between buyers and sellers."
Banks says a recent study presented to the Indiana State Department of Health revealed that even though Indiana is the 10th largest farm state, it currently imports 90 percent of its food. The study reported that if Hoosiers bought 15 percent of their food from local farms - only $4.50 per week-it would generate $1.5 billion of new farm income for the state.
SB 179 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration. Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) is the sponsor.