Legislators work with concerns over CAFOs

by 5m Editor
19 March 2007, at 4:24pm

US - Randolph County landowner Barbara Sha Cox of Richmond wants the Indiana General Assembly to regulate confined animal feeding operations to protect neighbors and the environment.


Union County pork producer Don Reiboldt understands concerns about the large operations known as CAFOs, but is worried they'll become a political issue.

Legislators in the 2007 session say that's already happened.

Lobbyists on both sides are working hard on the issue, State Rep. Phil Pflum, D-Milton, said. The public also is concerned, he said, citing a Palladium-Item Web site poll on the subject that got more responses than one on who would win the Super Bowl.

"I've hardly gotten anything done because of this issue," said Pflum, a former hog farmer and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. "It's about property rights, property values and quality of life. I'm not opposed to pork growth. It's all about location."

Pflum and Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, sponsored a bill establishing a one-mile setback from towns, schools, childcare centers and health facilities for new confined feeding operations.

It also sets annual fees for farmers to help pay for annual inspections and requires the state Chemist's Office to set up a training program for applying livestock waste.

Rep. Tom Knollman, R-Liberty, learned legislators aren't safe from lobbying on the issue even when eating at Chick-fil-A in Indianapolis. He voted against the House bills.

"It won't keep anyone from spreading manure within a mile of those places. Let's make (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) do its job and make the locals do their job," Knollman said, referring to planning and zoning. "I want to keep agriculture viable in Indiana."

Saunders said the bill got 62 votes in the House, so it had bipartisan support, but it's not easy being a Republican supporting more regulation of agriculture.

"Our Republican caucus has several large hog farmers. Behind closed doors, I've taken some heat," Saunders said. "There's a lot of lobbying. Those who have been talking to (of the bill) have to keep it up."

The bill passed the House last month and it gets a supporters hearing at 9:30 a.m. Monday by Senate Energy and Environmental Affairs Committee.


5m Editor