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Keeping farming tradition alive in the 21st century

Hiring Hoosiers
Posted: 5:30 AM, Mar 11, 2019
Updated: 2019-03-11 09:30:56Z

Hiring Hoosiers is a new initiative from RTV6 that works to connect Hoosiers to employment opportunities, career development resources, training programs and educational paths. In our Hiring Hoosiers reports we are taking a closer look at barriers to employment and things that get in the way of people getting the jobs they need to support themselves and their families. For more information, visit HiringHoosiers.com. See new stories weekdays at 6 a.m. on RTV6!

HOPE — Will and Jennifer Swope love their land. The young couple is operating a sixth-generation farm in Bartholomew County.

The Swopes are in the middle of preparing for the planting season.

"I don't think we really ever stop," Jennifer Swope said.

The Swopes own a processor which allows them to treat their corn seeds before they are placed in the fields. Their farm has its origins with Jennifer's family, the Clouse family, in the 1880s.

During Jennifer's junior year at Purdue University, she earned an internship with Westfield-based LG Seeds.

The program focused on supporting Indiana's future farmers by providing mentorships, teaching how to run a business, and providing insights on the latest trends in agriculture.

"I had to bring something back to this farm," she said. "It cannot sustain my parents and me and maybe a growing family for myself one day unless I am willing, unless I'm going to bring value to this farm in Hope, Indiana."

LG Seeds offers the internships to invest not only in its future customers but the future workforce of the farms that dot the Hoosier landscape.

"So these Rising Star internships and Rising Star Partner programs can be a great way for someone who wants to come back to the farm maybe there isn't that opportunity, yet they can they can create that opportunity for themselves," Laura Klaes, LG Seeds spokeswoman, said.

The Swopes see their value in part in being able to treat their seeds and share that knowledge with other farmers in and around Bartholomew County.

"It's pretty cutthroat," Jennifer Swope said. "If you want to stay on top of it and ensure that we are going to be able to farm for generations to come you got to take advantage of what sets you apart."

LG Seeds' Rising Star Partner program was started in 2017. The company offers internships to juniors and seniors committed to returning to their farms and keeping the tradition alive.

LEARN MORE | LG Seeds Rising Star Partner program

Indiana has 56,800 farming operations. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, agriculture contributes an estimated $31.2 billion to Indiana’s economy and supports more than 107,000 Hoosier jobs.

Federal regulators report that Indiana is the eighth largest agricultural exporter in the nation, exporting just over $4.6 billion in 2017. They say Indiana’s top 5 agricultural export products include:

  • Soybeans: $1.6 billion
  • Corn: $636 million
  • Feeds and other feed grains: $501 million
  • Pork: $377 million
  • Soybean meal: $295 million

By value of sales, Indiana's top five commodities are:

  • Corn: $3.28 billion
  • Soybeans: $3.08 billion
  • Meat animals: $1.62 billion
  • Poultry and eggs: $1.18 billion
  • Dairy: $750 million

The Indiana State Department of Agriculture says these five commodity groups account for almost 93 percent of the cash receipts in Indiana.