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Pence stresses importance of ag industry at conference

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Agriculture is one of the most important factors driving Indiana’s economy, Republican Gov. Mike Pence said Friday, adding that he plans to support its future growth and development.

“We see agriculture as the centerpiece of economic growth and development in Indiana,” Pence said at the first Governor’s Agriculture Conference in downtown Indianapolis. “We’re just absolutely determined to continue to promote the kinds of policies that will encourage agricultural innovation.”

The conference attracted more than 300 agriculture leaders to discuss the future of an industry that adds $25 billion to the state’s economy each year.

Key speakers included Pence, Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Purdue University agriculture dean Jay Akridge, who addressed topics like agribusiness development, conservation, stewardship, sustainability, feeding an increasing population and Indiana’s growing role in these issues.

Pence said he hopes the conference will help generate new ideas to keep Indiana in the forefront of agricultural innovation.

“We’ve got all the resources. We’ve got all the companies,” he said. “But now it’s a matter of bringing folks together and thinking in new ways.”

The conference also was a platform to recognize the collaborative work being done between agricultural businesses and environmental organizations, according to Bruno Pigott, assistant commissioner in the office of water quality at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

“We want to make sure that agriculture is productive, but also protect the environment at the same time,” Pigott said. “And talking about the environmental issues together has been really useful.”