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The HSUS Indiana Agriculture Advisory Council

Local farmers, producers and other agriculture professionals join with The HSUS to foster better animal welfare and environmental stewardship

Meet the members of The HSUS Indiana Agriculture Advisory Council, part of our growing system of state agriculture councils.

James Benham, Indiana Ag Council

James Benham

James D. Benham

Jim Benham began farming 40 years ago on the family farm just south of Versailles, Ind. Today he farms full-time with a grain operation on 2,300 acres. 

For 12 years, Jim held a position on the South Ripley School Board of Trustees. He is a member of the St. Paul Lutheran Church in Olean, where he has served both on the church council and as its president for two terms. In the past he has served as the Telamon Corporation's director for Indiana, helping with the Head Start programming for Indiana and managing $60 million in grants. 

Jim has been the president of the Indiana Farmer's Union for the past nine years. He also serves on the board of directors for the National Farmer's Union, in addition to serving on its budget and audit committee. He is also an advocate for rural family farms in Washington, D.C.  Jim is a loving husband of 42 years, a proud father to three daughters and sons-in-law, and a devoted grandfather to six grandchildren. 


Sherri Dugger / Photo by Dugger Family Farm

Sherri Dugger

Sherri Dugger, the Indiana Farmers Union’s media and outreach director, resides on a small farm in Morristown, Indiana, with her husband, Randy, and their dog, Adelle, a tribe of farm cats, seven goats, two alpacas, 32 chickens, and thousands of honeybees. At Dugger Family Farm, the Duggers run a small farm rescue, as well as a farm store, where they sell Indiana-made and sustainably raised products. They also grow their own food and produce specialty jams through their company, Kick Out The Jams.

Sherri has served as an editor for The Indianapolis Star newspaper, Indianapolis Monthly magazine, and International Tattoo Art magazine, as well as a freelance writer for dozens of local, national, and international magazines. In 2009, she began working for Home News Enterprises, now under a new name and ownership, where she edited a farm and local food publication called Farm Indiana for approximately five years. She also has written and edited several specialty publications and books, including a local food cookbook, “Hoosier Harvest,” and a hardcover anniversary book, titled “175 Years of Brown County.”

She continues to work extensively with farmers and farm organization leaders on various projects and programs throughout the state. Dugger is a certified farmers market manager, a board member for Hoosier Harvest Market, the only farmer-owned online food hub in Indiana, and a member of Indiana Grown. She is also the creator and editor of a local food website and information source, Hoosier Locavore, which can be found at www.hoosierlocavore.com.


Pete Eschelman, Indiana ag council

Pete Eschelman

Peter T. Eshelman 

Upon graduation from Williams College in 1976, Pete was drafted by the New York Yankees and then began his business career in the Yankees' front office.

There, he turned George Steinbrenner's idea to insure players with multi-year guarantee contracts into a successful business career. Over 25 years, he founded two specialty insurance businesses that are now part of public companies.

At age 50, Pete began his third career as a farmer and restaurateur. With his wife Alice and brother Tim, Pete owns Joseph Decuis, located in Roanoke, Indiana.

Over the past 17 years, Joseph Decuis has grown from a private corporate dining facility to a "farm to fork" culinary business, which today includes an award-winning gourmet restaurant, a gourmet retail store, an inn and a farm dedicated to producing food—primarily Wagyu beef—for the restaurant. Now when he's "dressed for the office," Pete's not in a coat and tie; he's in jeans and boots.

His favorite quote is, "There is no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn't care who gets the credit."


Greg Gunthorp Indiana ag council member

Greg Gunthorp

Greg Gunthorp

Greg Gunthorp, along with his wife and three kids, owns and operates a pasture-based farm in northeast Indiana, one of the largest such operations in the U.S. His family has raised pigs on pasture for at least four generations, and his farm has hosted visitors from all over the world. Gunthorp has spoken on pasture-based pig production at most of the major small farm and sustainable agriculture conferences. He is a board member of the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association. He served on former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman's Small Farm Commission as well as a small-farm advisory panel to President Clinton.

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