Battle lines drawn over farm feed lots

INDIANAPOLIS - Confined feeding operations are either the future of agriculture production or hazardous operations that threaten Hoosiers’ health.
calendar icon 6 February 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
And Indiana legislators are set this year to mediate the dispute, which is plagued by the push and pull of property rights.

The rights of a farmer in an area long-zoned for agriculture to move his business into the 21st century – and the rights of neighbors seeking a peaceful country life to live without tainted water and powerful odors.

Who will win?

The first chapter in the legislative battle began last week when proponents and opponents took to the Senate floor to discuss three possible legislative solutions.

The House will get its chance this week, with three more bills up for discussion Tuesday in the House Agriculture and Rural Development Committee.


Confined feeding operations and concentrated animal feeding operations – known as CFOs and CAFOs – have proliferated in recent years in Indiana.

Confined feeding operations are generally much smaller operations and are governed by state law.

But concentrated animal feeding operations – where large numbers of animals are fed and raised on a small plot of land rather than grazed – are subject to more regulatory requirements than confined feeding operations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers them to be a potential point source of pollution because of the possibility for waste to enter the waters of the U.S. through accidental discharge.

Because of this they are required to get a federal water permit, and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management is the EPA’s permitting authority for concentrated animal feeding operations.

A medium-sized concentrated animal feeding operation has up to 1,000 cattle, 700 dairy cows, 2,500 swine, 10,000 sheep and 82,000 chickens. Large facilities can have even more.

There are 625 concentrated animal feeding operations in Indiana – including dozens in northern Indiana – and they produce about 80 percent of all the animals from regulated farms.

In northeast Indiana, DeJong Dairy LLC outside Fremont in Steuben County has been found in violation of numerous environmental standards, including allowing illegal waste discharges.

Another concentrated animal feeding operation getting attention in northeast Indiana isn’t even open yet. Art and Marion Venema have applied for a permit to run Toll Tail Dairy on County Road 1100 East near the Steuben-LaGrange county line.

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