Last week the HCLA Class of 2024 had the privilege of learning more about the impact and heritage of agriculture within our county. The main host of the day, Beck’s Hybrids, symbolizes the role of agriculture in our community. Beck’s began as a regional seed company in 1937 and now not only is it a large employer in the state (800+ employees), it is the third largest seed company in the United States. It was a pleasure to learn more about how the family-owned company continues to innovate and thrive, while also maintaining its farming roots. 

The day also included learning and listening to Mitch Frazier, CEO of AgriNovus, as well as the Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Don Lamb. AgriNovus has been quite successful in growing the AgBioscience economy within the state. Indiana’s reputation as one of the largest agricultural producing states is well known; however, it is great to hear the innovation between agriculture and other industries – healthcare, biosciences, and energy. We also discussed the long-term career prospects in the agricultural industry and how we should rethink our education opportunities for this potentially undervalued career path. 

As always, it was an action-packed day with HCLA and we ended at Teter Organic Farm. The mission of the farm is to increase access to healthy foods for the vulnerable and provide ecological education to the community. Though the rain limited our ability to work at the farm, it was great to learn about the mission of Teter and how it is growing its connection to the community. It is alarming to hear of the food deserts that exist within Hamilton County, but glad to see there are organizations like Teter Organic Farm that are partnering to increase access to healthy food for these populations. 

Though I have been a Hamilton County resident for most of my life and also just a generation removed from a family farm, I was shocked at the economic impact agriculture has within Hamilton County. I am sure many of the residents of the southern parts of the county would share the same sentiment. Whether it be the 100,000+ acres within Hamilton County that are still farmed, or the AgBioscience companies like Beck’s Hybrids that employ many in the area, the agricultural economy remains strong. Thanks to HCLA organizers and partners for an informative, educational day.