When news spread last summer that a Benton County farmer’s irrigation system was responsible for sucking his residential neighbors’ wells dry, Indiana Farm Bureau officials cringed.
Something like that could be a PR nightmare, said Justin Schneider, senior policy adviser and counsel for the organization. It wasn’t that there was no water, it’s just that the system could only pump so much.
Schneider wouldn’t call what followed a firestorm of complaints, but the situation did open up dialogue about protecting agriculture’s rights to water.
He addressed the subject Wednesday during the 25th annual Fort Wayne Farm Show at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center that wraps up today.
The Farm Bureau supports the development of a water resource plan for Indiana, so long as the plan is comprehensive, well thought out and recognizes agriculture’s need for high priority as a user of water.
That is the message Schneider delivers to lawmakers.
We don’t want to be left out of the equation, he said after speaking to a crowd of about 150.
We just have to be aware of the issues, but we have to make them known.
One concern is that when it comes to water, Indiana is like two states, Schneider said.
We have the northern part, which has plenty of water, and the southern parts that are dry, he said.
Water delivery systems would help, provided they are fair, Schneider said.
Jerry Garlinger is a Battle Creek, Mich., farmer and worries that when the public hears a story like the one in Benton County, people will jump to conclusions. For one thing, it was an isolated case and involved few residents, he said.
We need to communicate or at least somebody needs to communicate to people better, said Garlinger, who grows corn and soybeans. People should know what it takes to run a farm.
Cindy Miller says the same.
We need (forums) like this, the Kendallville-area resident said. That is always helpful.
Organizers expect more than 30,000 people to attend the farm show, which features 400 exhibits, organizations and displays.
Fred Cline is the chief organizer of the Fort Wayne Farm Show, which is run by Tradexpos Inc. of Austin, Minn. He said the Fort Wayne ag showcase is the company’s largest exhibition.