Capturing Opportunity Through Value-Added Agriculture
About a year ago, the IEDA Rural Economic Development Affinity Group (REDAG) challenged us to come up with a viable economic development model for Indiana’s rural communities. We’re now ready to launch the initiative: Indiana’s Rural Economic Development Model – Capturing Opportunity through Value-Added Agriculture.
IEDA has been actively engaged in a partnership with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), the Purdue Center for Regional Development (PCRD), the Indiana Farm Bureau, the Indiana Corn Marketing Council/Indiana Soybean Alliance, the Indiana Office of Rural and Community Affairs (OCRA), the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) and the AgriBusiness Institute.
Here are some of the components of the Rural Economic Development Model that we’ve been working on:
Ag Asset Mapping – ISDA and PCRD are working to produce county-level maps that will show relative ag production for specific products, such as cattle, ducks, chickens, turkeys, sweet corn, soybeans, mint, watermelons, tomatoes, and many, many others. These maps will be produced twice a year with current data from ISDA and IDEM. This will enable counties and regions to identify opportunities to attract processing operations that leverage ag assets. Different from the ag census data from the federal government, the data in these maps will be current within a six month time period.
Supply Chain Opportunities – PCRD has been working to identify industry clusters related to agriculture in many Indiana regions, and target opportunities within the corresponding supply chains. PCRD has been helping to identify ‘leakages’ in the ag supply chains: products and processes that are purchased outside of Indiana that could be relocated to the state.
Policy and Land Use – Indiana Farm Bureau, Indiana Corn Marketing Council, and the Indiana Soybean Alliance have been working to develop resources such as model ag policies for counties, land use recommendations, and timelines for counties that are pursuing ag strategies and how they can phase-in polices for optimal adoption.
Food Processing Sites – Food processing sites may differ from traditional industrial sites in critical ways such as water quantity and quality, waste water processing capacity, infrastructure type and capacity, etc. OCRA developed standards for certified sites a couple of years ago and is working to provide direction about how rural communities can keep the door open for food processing by making their sites suitable for a wide range of uses, including food processing.