This made the Aug. 15 debate between candidates state Sen. Vi Simpson, D-Bloomington, and state Rep. Sue Ellspermann, R-Ferdinand, particularly poignant.
The debate was managed by AgrIInstitute, a nonprofit that teaches leadership skills to those in the agriculture industry, at the Indiana State Fair.
The candidates discussed many facets of agriculture, including jobs, education and the role of the government in maintaining this industry.
Simpson, who is running with Democrat John Gregg, discussed the importance of agriculture to the Indiana economy, though she did not discuss specific plans to protect or enrich the industry.
“Agriculture is Indiana’s first industry, and even though it’s been around the longest, it remains key to the economic success of our people and our communities,” Simpson said. “Today, agriculture is a $25 billion dollar industry, and it employs 20 percent of our workforce. We must be thinking about how we can ensure these numbers remain strong and grow even more in the future.”
Simpson said her and Gregg’s emphasis on bipartisanship in the House and Senate will better ensure progress for farmers than U.S. Rep. Mike Pence, R-6th district, and Ellspermann.
“John Gregg and I foresee rural communities and families that are better served by collaborative rule-making, an emphasis on infrastructure — which includes broadband — and job growth efforts that aren’t solely focused on smokestacks,” Simpson said. “We want our communities to be places where people want to live, and where their children and grandchildren want to stay.”
Simpson said the debate was timely, as much of the state currently faces severe drought conditions.
“We certainly thank the men and women who toil every day to produce our farm, food, fiber, fuel and forestry products,” Simpson said. “In a Gregg-Simpson administration, I assure you, they’ll have a seat at the table.”
The latest poll conducted by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce reported Pence and Ellspermann had the lead with 50 percent of votes. Gregg and Simpson received 32 percent, and Libertarian Rupert Boneham had 3 percent.
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