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Monday, February 16, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - "Is ‘right to farm’ amendment for Indiana a‘right to harm?’"

That is the headline to this story by Ryan Sabalow of the Indianapolis Star. Some quotes:

Senate Joint Resolution 12 is authored by Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford. It’s the latest version of a constitutional amendment that had been discussed in two previous legislative sessions but failed to advance. It’s also similar to resolutions and bills pushed by corporate and agricultural groups across the country.

Gov. Mike Pence signed a law last year co-authored by Steele that said Indiana’s legal code was to be construed to protect the rights of farmers to farm or ranch in the manner they so desired.

Such “Right to Farm” legislation is praised by national farming advocates who say it ensures future state lawmakers won’t pass laws that unnecessarily burden farming. They say such legislation provides protections from what they consider to be bogus legal challenges pushed by animal welfare groups, such as the Humane Society of the United States. * * *

Kim Ferraro, a lawyer with the Hoosier Environmental Council, questions why the bill is needed at all. She says lawmakers have already passed two right-to-farm statutes, including the one last year, so why add further protections?

Plus, she questions whether farmers are really under threat as they like to claim.

“You hear them say ag is under attack, yet two weeks ago I was invited to attend the governor’s inaugural agricultural conference, and I was sitting in a room with over 400 people from the biggest multinational corporations — Cargill, Monsanto, huge, huge companies — all boasting about how Indiana is a global leader, how the industry is making billions. I mean it’s like where is the disconnect?” * * *

Steele’s resolution is scheduled to be discussed Monday during the Senate’s Agricultural Committee hearing at 10 a.m. in Room 130 at the State Capitol, 200 W. Washington St.

Constitutional amendments need to be passed by the General Assembly for two consecutive years before going before the voters.

Here is a list of many earlier ILB posts on "right to farm" legislation.

Of interest is this November 19, 2014 commentary on the status of Indiana law by attorney Gary Baise in the trade publication, Pork Network, who writes:

[Plaintiffs are apparently unaware of] the Lindsey v DeGroot Dairy, LLC case, where the constitutionality of the Right to Farm Act was upheld and also established that certain violations were not negligence as a matter of law.

Again, in 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit held that plaintiffs had no case against Country View Family Farms, LLC by saying that even though nonfarming neighbors had arrived in the general area before the hog farm was built, the Indiana Right to Farm Act applied and protected the CAFO operator.

DeGroot was decided years before the second right-to-farm statute was added to Indiana law last year. If last year's legislation was "adding a belt to suspenders", how to categorize this year's effort?

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 16, 2015 10:47 AM
Posted to Indiana Government