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Change ‘fascinating’ aspect of agriculture

Agriculture is an ever-changing vocation, if not the one that changes the most, according to John Colin of Corydon, Harrison County’s deputy prosecutor.
But don’t let his profession fool you. Colin is a former 4-Her who showed hogs and an FFA member who served as state president in 1988. He was a Farm Bureau field representative from 1994 to 1996.
Last Tuesday night, Colin was the guest speaker for the 86th annual Harrison County Farm Bureau business meeting, attended by about 150 farmers and politicians.
‘It’s always a pleasure to speak about agriculture issues, especially to Farm Bureau members,’ Colin said.
The number of Hoosier farms has declined by 61 percent in the last several years while the average farm size has doubled. ‘We’re seeing larger farms and fewer farmers,’ he said.
The greatest change has occurred in the pork industry, with 76 percent of hog farmers leaving the business since 1979.
Colin said there are a number of reasons for these changes, including trade agreements and increased markets.
But, ‘The No. 1 reason probably is the laws that affect agriculture,’ he said. ‘It’s a heavily regulated industry.’
Colin encouraged the farmers at last week’s meeting to ‘take the initiative to make change,’ and he noted that some of them were already doing that by participating in the Farm, Forest and Open Space Task Force.
‘There’s a lot of work that needs to be on that (yet),’ he said. ‘Nothing’s set in stone yet.’
Through his work at prosecutor Dennis Byrd’s office, Colin is involved in prosecuting criminals who often use something found on many farms. That something is anhydrous ammonia, an ingredient used in the making of the illegal drug methamphetamine, or meth.
Meth is ‘one of the most addictive, one of the most inexpensive and one of the most deadly drugs,’ Colin said. ‘The life expectancy of someone using meth is about five years once they are addicted.’
While most of the needed ingredients to ‘cook’ meth is found in stores, one ingredient ‘ anhydrous ammonia ‘ is not. Colin predicts additional, stricter regulations will soon be in place for persons ‘ like farmers ‘ who have a legitimate reason to have anhydrous ammonia.
‘It’s important for Farm Bureau to play a role in state legislation,’ Colin said, just as it as done at the state level through projects like the legal assistance fund, confined feeding regulations, the Rails to Trails program, and working with the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management.
Change is going to continue in Harrison County, Colin said.
‘The question is whether you’ll be ready for change when it happens,’ he said.
The Rev. Pete Baumgartle gave the invocation and Robert Schickel, president of the Harrison County Farm Bureau, conducted the business meeting. June Vaughn led the Pledge to the Flag, and Bill Watts conducted the election of three delegates. Shirley Jones, Roscoe Emily and Bill Nichols were elected, with Bill Watts, Charlie Crawford and Irene Blank selected as alternates.
Alice Wolfe of Lanesville is the outgoing secretary after serving four years. Jackie Bosler of Depauw succeeds Wolfe.
Karen Wischmeier of Salem provided the entertainment for the evening. She has been singing since she was 10 years old.