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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Law targeting livestock farms fails to pass

Friday, May 4, 2007

A new law that would have placed tighter restrictions on large livestock farms in Indiana failed to pass during the General Assembly's recent session.

House Bill 1197 would have prohibited the construction of Confined Feeding Operations, or CFOs, within one mile of a licensed child care center, public school, licensed health facility or municipality.

This could have had a local impact for Putnam County, which is home to a number of small-scale CFOs, located mainly in the central and southern parts of the county.

For a farm to be classified as a CFO, it must house at least 300 cattle, 600 swine or sheep, or 30,000 fowl, according to the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management (IDEM).

The law would also have placed tighter regulations on livestock farmers regarding how they handle animal waste.

Supporters of the bill complained about the smells associated with large livestock farms and the runoff from manure that could pose a threat to water supplies.

Any fears that farmers may have had regarding the law ended last Sunday when the bill failed to garner a vote in the House. But the politics continued to play out at the Statehouse this week.

According to reports, Sen. Beverly Gard, R-Greenfield, one of the sponsors of the bill, blamed the House membership for failing to pass the bill on time.

Gard criticized leaders for failing to compromise on key portions of the bill -- mainly the one-mile limit for CFOs and increased permit fees for farmers.

But not everyone was unhappy the bill failed.

A representative of the statewide Hoosier Environmental Council criticized the bill for taking the control of environmental regulations out of the hands of local agencies, such as the health department, and placing it in the hands of state agencies.

A similar bill would have required local health departments to determine the environmental impact of large livestock operations -- something State Agriculture Department Director Andy Miller told the BannerGraphic in March he opposes. He also said he opposed the shift to state control.

"We are fully supportive of local control," Miller said in a previous BannerGraphic interview.

For those like Miller who were opposed to the legislation, the matter may be settled for now, but agriculture officials say it's an issue that probably won't go away anytime soon.

Putnam County Purdue Extension Educator Ann Delchambre told the BannerGraphic that large livestock farms are "a hot button issue" in the state today.

Opposition to large livestock farms is growing, which Delchambre believes is due, in part, to a lack of education on the part of the general public. She said she believes it's important for agriculture officials to make sure the general public understands how CFOs and their large cousins, CAFOs, are operated, in order to ease some of the concerns.

Miller said the public may not realize that livestock farms adhere to some of the strictest environmental regulations of any business in the state.

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