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Whether at the Statehouse or in local communities, discussion of modern livestock operations can turn negative with strong opposition to the ability of farmers to grow their farm by increasing livestock production. Open dialogue is replaced with projections of past violations and bad practices by a few farmers to individuals who have been good neighbors and farmers.
The 2017 Interim Study Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources met three times over the summer and fall to discuss confined feeding operations. Justin Schneider, Indiana Farm Bureau director of state government relations, testified that the current regulatory system of environmental oversight by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and existing authorities for local control are sufficient to address concerns that are raised in opposition to livestock operations. He also stressed the importance of counties reviewing their zoning ordinances before construction of a livestock barn is proposed to provide an environment open to dialogue and not about the merits of a proposed farm.
Legislators and other government officials need first-hand experiences on modern livestock farms. INFB members and staff worked together to host 50 members of the General Assembly on a livestock or poultry farm during the summer and fall of 2017. The goal is to get every legislator on a farm by the end of 2018. Proper site selection to reduce conflicts is a critical step in ensuring that modern livestock and poultry farms remain viable. Farmers considering new or expanded buildings should take steps to address environmental issues and odor, which are two key factors that lead to opposition.