Thursday, September 26, 2013
Ind. Law - Re "an effort to amend the state constitution to include the quite innocent-sounding 'right to hunt, fish and farm.'”
Matthew Tully's long column, here in the Lafayette Journal Courier on Sept. 24th, is headed "Don't be fooled - this is just a pig farm with lipstick." Some quotes:
It’s never too early to start worrying about the next Indiana General Assembly session, and for anyone who cares about clean air and clean water, there is already plenty of reason to be concerned about the session that begins in a few months.ILB: Here is a list of earlier ILB entries on the proposed constitutional amendment.
Come January, some lawmakers likely will resurrect an effort to amend the state constitution to include the quite innocent-sounding “right to hunt, fish and farm.” It’s all a ruse, of course, one apparently based on the hope that most voters will blindly sign off on an amendment that sounds harmless and reasonable.
The farming portion of the measure is the least mentioned but most concerning, as it would diminish the already weak system of environmental protections guarding Hoosiers, particularly those in rural areas. Environmentalists are rightly alarmed by the measure, noting that it would give communities and residents even fewer ways to control the emergence of massive meat-producing operations such as hog or chicken farms.
All this in a state where the regulations and laws are already tilted way too far in the wrong direction.
“Industrial livestock interests have enormous clout at the state and local level,” said Jesse Kharbanda, who heads the Hoosier Environmental Council. “At the state legislative level, they have defeated virtually every effort to strengthen environmental safeguards. At the state regulatory level, they have defeated efforts to create new safeguards. At the local level, they have succeeded in advancing their interests.”
For evidence of that, just consider the depressing story of Camp Tecumseh, a lovely outdoor camp for children near Lafayette. This summer, over strong objections, local commissioners approved the construction of a combined animal feeding operation (CAFO) that ultimately could house more than 9,000 hogs just a half-mile from the camp.
Mega-farms do fine in Indiana, you see. But they want more. They always want more.
Backed by organizations such as Indiana Farm Bureau, and by several lawmakers with financial ties to the industry, advocates pushed the proposed amendment through the legislature in 2011. If they can do so again in 2014, it will go to the voters for ratification. All you have to do to figure out how the public vote would go is read the proposed ballot language, which asks Hoosiers to affirm “that the people have a right to hunt, fish, harvest game, or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry or dairy products.” * * *
The measure (Senate Joint Resolution 7) stalled in the House last year after the Senate passed it overwhelmingly. There’s hope that the House will do the right thing again next year. But the power of big-dollar corporate farming is strong at the Statehouse; to understand that, you just need to look at the proliferation of such mega-farms in recent years.
Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, the sponsor of the proposed amendment, did not return a phone call. That’s OK. We know the story. For environmentalists, it’s always an uphill fight in Indiana. And when an amendment like this one gets branded as something that it’s not, something warm and fuzzy, it’s even harder.
Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 26, 2013 09:28 AM
Posted to Indiana Law