Second-generation farmer and longtime Boone County resident Don Lamb began working on his family’s farm at an early age alongside his father and brother. Through the decades, the family business flourished and sprouted into multiple companies.
Today, Lamb’s children work on the same family farm he helped to thrive. He sees them when he stops by each evening on his way home from his new job – growing Indiana’s agriculture industry.
This spring, Lamb began his new role as director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The agency advocates for Indiana’s agriculture industry, manages soil conservation programs, licenses grain firms and promotes economic development and innovation in the industry.
“The great thing about being in this role is it’s really natural to me because I have been very supportive of the agricultural community,” Lamb said. “Everything about this role is advocacy.”
The Central Indiana farmer and his family produce several crops including corn, soybeans and seed wheat on their farm. They also own AgRecycle, a composting business; and Lamb Farms Agronomy, which offers soil management and crop production services and products.
Technology over the years has transformed farm work, Lamb said. Technology also has impacted Indiana’s economy, leading to new opportunities for Indiana farmers and other agricultural businesses, he said.
Agriculture contributes more than $35 billion to Indiana’s economy, the ISDA reports on its website. The Hoosier state is the eighth largest agricultural exporter in the nation, with $6.6 billion in exports in 2021, according to the ISDA.
In His Words: Don Lamb, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, sat for an interview with the Co-op Land Economic Development Podcast. Hear him discuss working with his team and others across the Hoosier State.
Lamb, who previously served as the vice president of the Boone County Council, and his family businesses are longtime members of Boone REMC, the first electric distribution cooperative in Indiana. Many farmers are familiar with the culture around member-owned cooperatives, Lamb said. He highlighted how members receive patronage from the co-op and they directly elect the cooperative’s board of directors.
“It’s not an option for a farm to shut down for a day or two while something is repaired,” Lamb said. “Dependable electric service is huge, and it’s been great through Boone REMC.”
Bob Lamb, Don’s father, was a longtime member advisor for Boone REMC. Jodie Lamb, Don’s wife, serves on the board for Operation Round Up®, a program in which co-op members can volunteer to “round up” their energy bill to the next dollar, with the amount rounded up going to local nonprofits. Boone REMC has provided Operation Round Up grants to many local organizations including Habitat for Humanity of Boone County, Mental Health America of Boone County and Sugar Creek Art Center.
“The Lamb families have been invaluable members of our cooperative and community,” said Bill Conley, president and CEO of Boone REMC. “Don’s leadership and commitment to service will benefit farmers and countless more Hoosiers in his new role with the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.”
In the first few months in his new role, Lamb has met with officials from different sectors of Indiana’s agricultural industry. His goal is that agriculture “becomes a natural talking point at all levels of economic development across our state.” He also highlighted the developments taking place in “agbioscience,” or the agriculture, biology and life sciences industries in Indiana with employers such as Elanco, Corteva and Eli Lilly.
“It gets back to production agriculture and how everything happening in agbioscience impacts what we do in the field,” Lamb said, “and how we move forward together.”