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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Horse manure in the news

This long, interesting Oct. 9th column by CNHI's Maureen Hayden, here in the Kokomo Tribune, begins:

INDIANAPOLIS – The new floor leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives is familiar with the manure of politics. Or, rather, the politics of manure.

Before he was elected to the General Assembly seven years ago, Rep. Matt Lehman served 16 years as a councilman in rural Adams County – home to one of the largest concentrations of Old Order Amish in the country.

Religious freedom – a lightning-rod issue in the Legislature - wasn’t just an abstract concept.

Lehman respected the hardworking, frugal ethos of the Amish, whose presence brings tourists and their dollars into his community. But he routinely fielded calls from non-Amish complaining about the manure deposited by buggy-pulling horses of the Amish, whose faith calls them to eschew things of the modern world, including cars.

“I’d get more angry calls on horse manure on county roads than almost anything else,” Lehman said. “Now I get calls from people complaining about manure on state roads.”

This interesting Oct. 5th story by Sheila Selman of the Goshen News focuses directly on the horse manure problem; the headline is "Stink raised in LaGrange County over horse manure on roads." Some quotes:

LAGRANGE — A petition to require manure bags on horses drew more than 130 people into the LaGrange County Commissioners meeting room at the LaGrange County Building Monday morning.

More than half those in the audience were Amish — the target of a petition by LaGrange County resident Chad Fry, who along with a couple of thousand petitioners, hopes to eliminate horse manure in parking lots and roadways in LaGrange County.

“This isn’t about English vs. Amish,” Fry said. “It’s about respect and cleaner towns. It’s only going to benefit the community in the long run.”

Also presented to the commissioners were resolutions from the town councils of Shipshewana and Topeka in support of manure bags, keeping streets clean and waste out of the water. Shipshewana councilman Roger Yoder said after the meeting that towns could hardly have their own ordinances concerning manure. It would have to be countywide to be effective.

During his presentation, Fry said county officials have catered to the Amish with reduced speed zones in heavily Amish populated areas, buggy lanes on roads and hitching racks at businesses and government offices — all costing taxpayers money.

“We shouldn’t have to clean up after that,” he said. “We’re paying for the clean up as well.”

He also said there are health issues involved with manure. When it rains, there is runoff into lakes, fields and eventually drinking water. He pointed out that Shipshewana has a storm drain clogged because of manure. And people have to walk through brown water when it rains, tracking feces into businesses and homes.

Safety was another of Fry’s concerns. Motorists, particularly motorcyclists, could have accidents trying to avoid manure, he said. And if they don’t avoid the piles, motorists have to continually clean their vehicles. * * *

He pointed to Auburn, Kentucky, which passed an ordinance in 2014 requiring manure bags on horses. Fry presented what he believes is a cost-effective solution, a product called the Bun Bag. It attaches to the horse’s tail and when the horse poops, the bag catches it.

Members of the Amish community were not impressed with the device, but felt as Christians they should try to listen and work with their neighbors.

One Amish bishop, through Commissioner Larry Miller, offered to form a committee of Amish and English residents to study the matter and perhaps come up with a compromise. Fry accepted that offer.

“We understand it’s a problem,” said Atlee Miller of Topeka, “and we want to look at it in a fair way.” * * *

But they have to keep the safety of their families in mind.

Miller said they were not willing to risk their wives and children being injured if a horse became uncontrollable because the bag bouncing against its hindquarters felt like a whip.

“It could be nasty — very, very nasty,” Miller said.

Many of the horses hooked to buggies are former race horses, several Amish men explained after the meeting. These former racers are more sensitive and high strung than a draft horse.

Fry said during the meeting the horses would have to get used to the bag and he was supported in that by a resident who said he has trained horses for 35 years.

However, Fry said he has not been successful in trying out the Bun Bag to see if it would aggravate a horse. No one from the Amish community was willing to test it for him, he said. Several Amish men after the meeting said they were not willing to take that risk. If Fry wanted to pay for damages that could be caused by the horse, they would be willing.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 13, 2015 11:20 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government