|INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana lawmaker sponsoring a bill that would bar large livestock farms from being built within a mile of schools, cities, towns and nursing homes said there was growing support for the measure across the state.
Democratic Rep. Phillip Pflum said last week that he hopes the bill, which is strongly opposed by the livestock industry, finds bipartisan support in the state Senate. The Democratic-controlled state House of Representatives, including 12 Republicans, voted 62-36 in favor of the bill.
Pflum said there is strong support in Indiana’s rural areas for new restrictions on large livestock farms, where thousands of hogs, cattle and other animals are raised in tight quarters, producing large amounts of manure waste.
Residents near such farms have complained that their property values will plummet because of the smell, dust and heavy traffic from trucks hauling livestock. Others worry the farms could threaten their health.
“If you try to put one of these next to a small town or a city, people are just outraged. The point of this bill and the other ones out there is to send a message to these big corporate farms to be a little more respectful of people’s property,” Pflum said.
The Indiana Farm Bureau opposes the measure, or any other that would set uniform restrictions on large livestock farms, said the group’s president, Don Villwock.
He said several factors should be taken into consideration, including the direction of prevailing winds, to determine a farm’s location.
“To have a universal number is not necessarily fair,” he said. “We’re very open to the negotiations on this and we look forward to working out a reasonable compromise.”
Pflum’s bill would require state environmental officials to inspect each of Indiana’s roughly 2,200 large livestock farms at least once a year.
In addition, it would require state environmental officials to create civil penalty schedules for various types of livestock farm violations.
It also would make the state Chemist’s Office set up a training program for farm workers who apply livestock waste to farmland as fertilizer - the most common method of disposing of the large amounts of manure the farms generate.