The following was written for Hoosier Energy and appeared in the July 2016 issue of Business Facilities. Recreated here with permission.
With more than 14.7 million acres of farmland, Indiana is a leading producer of corn, soybeans, hogs, poultry, popcorn and tomato products. Indiana agriculture contributes roughly $31.2 billion to the Hoosier GDP annually, with approximately 107,500 Hoosier jobs supported by the ag-business sector.
Ted McKinney is the Director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the Director of Agri-Business Economic Development for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. McKinney noted that ag-business is booming. “For the first time ever, Wal-Mart is investing in their own dairy processing plant, which looks to be one of the largest in the nation, and they’ve chosen Indiana for that plant. Krone Equipment, a producer of heavy farming machinery, will move its North American Headquarters from Memphis, TN to Shelbyville.”
Looking at Southern Indiana and the Hoosier Energy service territory where it is the electric provider for 18 distribution cooperatives (REMCs), McKinney credits the company for how they understand the industry at a fundamental level. “Modern ag production is highly automated. “When you are looking at a lot of machinery to churn commodity products, you need a reasonably priced, reliable energy supply. We can offer that. I can’t state enough how important it is that Hoosier Energy is there early on to answer questions.” McKinney added, “Hoosier Energy just ‘gets’ agri-businesses. They walk the talk and understand the needs of the industry, and that goes a long way.”
Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) is one major company Hoosier Energy and Daviess-Martin County REMC have helped in several ways. GPC is a global distributor of grain ethanol products. GPC plans to invest $70 million to expand facilities at their Washington, IN, campus over the next two years. When completed, they will double production from 17 million pounds per month to 34 million pounds per month. According to Renee Campbell, the Hoosier Energy Key Accounts Manager for the territory, GPC creates grain product through wet-milling, a process that results in high purity. “GPC is the largest producer of Maltodextrin (AKA Maltrin®), used in personal care items, food and ethyl alcohol. They produce a corn oil and corn germ used in pet foods and high gluten nutrition products.”
Hoosier Energy and their member/owner, Daviess-Martin County REMC, have worked with GPC at several levels since the facility opened in 1997. “GPC owns their own power substation and we advise them on the maintenance and service of that substation. On the expansion, we’ll work to make modern LED lighting an affordable option and also discuss advanced lighting control so they’ll be operating at maximum energy efficiency as soon as they open,” said Campbell. “We know that, with this expansion, they will need a lot more corn supply. So this is a huge opportunity for corn growers in Southern Indiana.”
Mike Owens, another Key Account Manager at Hoosier Energy, believes that nurturing good ag-business doesn’t stop at the large company accounts. “The family farms of today are the large ag-producers of tomorrow,” said Owens. “Rose Acre Farms is one of America’s largest egg producers with 17 facilities in six states. They started as a family farm in Jackson County, Indiana. Any of the family farms can end up being my next major ag-producer.” Owens referenced a “smaller” client, Riverview Farms in Orange County near Orleans, IN, a family farm which currently produces “200,000 chickens, 70,000 hogs and 250,000 tom turkeys every year.” With recent expansions, they’ve added a $4.2 million pullet barn (for raising turkey hatchlings) and a $12M feeder mill. “They’re diversifying and want to pass the business on to the next generation. They may be my next major ag-producer.”
One way Hoosier Energy and their distribution cooperatives helps family farms is by offering incentives to upgrade their lights to modern, energy efficient LEDs. “The typical barn may require as many at 220 light bulbs.” Modern LED lights run on 10 watts, are very durable and can last up to 20 years. Hoosier Energy offers family farms a rebate on LED upgrades that can result in a savings from almost $8 per bulb down to $1.89 per bulb. This can mean an average reduction of 15 percent in their overall power usage.
From the family farm to the global food producers, Hoosier Energy “gets” ag-business. By supporting farms and businesses of all sizes, Hoosier Energy and their member/owners REMCs are nurturing the growth of ag-businesses throughout Southern Indiana.
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