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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Env't. - Agriculture Today interview with new IDEM head

"Easterly making changes at IDEM" is the headline to this story in Argiculture Today:

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has topped the list of least favorite state agencies by most of Indiana agriculture. Battles over enforcement of environmental regulations and numerous confrontations by IDEM inspectors on Hoosier farms prompted Governor Daniels to make sweeping changes in the agency. One of his first jobs was to appoint Tom Easterly as the new Commissioner of IDEM. In the past month Easterly has been busy making changes at the department.

Easterly told Brownfield, in an exclusive interview, that his first move was to eliminate two levels of management at IDEM that were responsible for the adversarial relations with the farming community. “I am sending the message up and down the agency that our goal is to help people do the right thing,” Easterly said.

This re-education of IDEM staff extends to field inspectors, too. Easterly said IDEM inspectors how conduct on farm visits will begin a new process called “pilot inspections”. During these inspections IDEM staff will visit farms to learn about an operation and not do an actual inspection. “Our people would learn what they do not understand about an operation and what the farmer does not understand about the regulations,” Easterly explained. He also pledged to make the decision making process at the agency more transparent.

He urged those in the agricultural community to complain if they feel their concerns are not being addressed. He told producers not to hesitate to push complaints up the chain of command all the way to him. Easterly said he was been working closely with Andy Miller, the Director of the New State Department of Agriculture, to make sure farming issues are being addressed. Easterly believes that economic growth in the state’s farm economy is vital and feels it can be achieved while still protecting the environment. He said the agency will also continue to make the permitting and licensing process faster and more user friendly for producers.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 9, 2005 04:14 PM
Posted to Environment