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Indiana Farmers Union Forms Hemp, Local Foods Chapters
Indiana Ag Connection - 05/22/2017

Two new chapters have formed under the Indiana Farmers Union (INFU) to promote Indiana family farms, healthy food access, and industrial hemp production, with other chapter formations in the works.

Approximately 10 Indiana Farmers Union members formed a chapter based out of Morgan County to focus on issues related to the legalization of industrial hemp production throughout Indiana.

According to the Hemp Business Journal, based in Colorado grew 5,922 acres of industrial hemp and Kentucky grew 2,525 in 2016, while Indiana recorded a mere two acres. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture has approved over 200 applications for 2017, for a total of 12,800 acres. Indiana, on the other hand, less than 20 acres. It is time for Indiana to join the movement and allow farmers to grow industrial hemp as a third rotation crop option. The chapter was formed, in part, by members of the Indiana Hemp Industries Association, and organizers are beginning work to formulate a plan of action for the coming year, including hosting an event during Hemp History Week (HHW), June 5-11. HHW is a nationwide, grassroots campaign/celebration in order to raise awareness for industrial hemp.

Approximately 12 Indiana Farmers Union members have formed a healthy food access chapter to work within Shelby County to promote Indiana family farms, while creating sustainable programs that bring fresh, locally grown foods to county residents living in areas in need of such foods, typically referred to as low food access areas and food deserts.

In a recent study, Shelby County reported 32 percent of its adult population as obese with 7.2 percent on a 0-10 scale of its population as low income with either no access to a grocery store and those without reliable access to food during the past year. The healthy food access chapter includes local farmers, members of Healthy Shelby County and its Healthy Eating Action Team, and the Shelby County health department.

Other Indiana Farmers Union chapters are in formation, including a chapter focused on organic farming and a chapter that will promote the use of locally grown herbs for healing purposes. Indiana Farmers Union (INFU) is encouraging local farmers and food advocates to join the union, form chapters, and obtain assistance from the state organization to kick off programs, projects, and cooperative businesses in support of local food systems, farmers markets, and the state's many family farmers. INFU will be hosting future events to meet with local farmers and food advocates with the goal of forming more active chapters throughout the state. Local farmers and food advocates are encouraged to attend and to discuss their ideas and needs with INFU staff and fellow state advocates.

Indiana Farmers Union, founded in 1955, is a grass-roots organization that works to protect the social and economic well-being of family farmers throughout the Hoosier state.Our members are our policy drivers: this means that we engage elected officials on issues that come directly from our membership and press lawmakers to implement and enforce laws and regulations that will strengthen agriculture in Indiana.

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