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Leising: Indiana must continue monitoring farmland loss

Indiana must continue monitoring farmland loss
By State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg)

Indiana’s agriculture industry is one of our state’s most important sectors and contributes more than $35 billion to our state’s economy. That’s why in 2023 I sponsored House Enrolled Act 1557, which directed the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) to determine how much farmland was lost in Indiana between 2010 and 2022. In their report, they determined the state lost around 345,000 acres of farmland in that period. Such a significant loss makes it clear that, for the sake of our future food security, we need to continue monitoring the situation and ensure we protect our prime farmland.

The ISDA also found a significant portion of the land loss was due to residential development and what appears to be sprawl around the edges of urban and suburban areas.

While it makes sense development is concentrated around major cities across the state, including Indianapolis, it is nevertheless concerning because much of our prime farmland, or land with the best soil quality and other physical characteristics that make it easier to grow crops sustainably, is also concentrated in central and north-central Indiana and many counties in Senate District 42.

With the loss of this farmland comes the loss of local farms. There were 3,050 fewer farms in Indiana in 2022 than 2017, according to the 2024 USDA Census of Agriculture. This loss follows national trends as 20 million acres of farmland were lost in the U.S. between 2017 and 2022.

Fortunately, this loss has not yet had a major impact on our food security. Indiana produced 597 million bushels of corn for grain in 2012 and that number increased to over 1 billion in 2022.

That being said, for the sake of our future food security, it is still extremely important to gather more specific data on the loss of prime farmland in particular, where this farmland is going, and whether state or local governments are investing money or providing tax benefits that further incentivize the loss of this valuable resource.

We have an opportunity this coming legislative session to get ahead of this issue and make sure we continue monitoring farmland loss and update the Inventory of Lost Farmland at least every five years to fall in line with the next USDA Census of Agriculture.

If you have any questions or concerns on these or other topics, feel free to submit a "Contact Me" form on the Indiana Senate Republicans website, or call me at 1-800-382-9467.  


State Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) represents Senate District 42, which includes Decatur, Fayette, Ripley and Rush counties, and portions of Franklin, Jennings and Shelby counties. Click here to download a high-resolution photo.