The CAFO Reform Bill
There is a growing movement in Indiana calling for state lawmakers to restore balance and fairness to Indiana’s laws and regulations that provide far too much protection for the livestock industry’s special interests and not enough protection for the public interest, rights and well-being of citizens. This reform movement emerged partly in response to a myriad of dangerous legislative efforts by the livestock industry in recent years that would have: stripped local government authority to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (“CAFOs”); made criminals out of whistle-blowers that expose the inhumane treatment of animals at CAFOs; created constitutional “right to farm” that would have provided unprecedented legal immunity from liability for CAFOs that cause harm; and further weakened our state environmental agency’s ability to regulate CAFOs. Defeating these industry-backed efforts kept Indiana from going further in the wrong direction. However, we still need to pass progressive legislation that will provide meaningful protection for our air, land, water resources, and people from factory farm pollution.
On that front, HEC drafted comprehensive legislation that would give our state environmental agency IDEM, the authority it currently lacks to place limits on noxious CAFO air emissions and prevent factory farms from locating too close to existing homes, drinking water resources, nature areas, schools, and children’s camps. The Bill’s provisions were crafted based on input from people across the state—in no fewer than 20 communities—whose health has been impacted, air quality and living conditions diminished, and property values decreased due to uncontrolled air pollution, inadequately controlled water pollution, and irresponsible siting of factory farms as allowed under current law. The Bill has been introduced in two consecutive legislative sessions with bipartisan lawmaker support. This Session (2019), it was introduced as HB 1378, heard in the House Environmental Affairs Committee, attracted statewide media-attention, and is endorsed by a broad coalition of public health and environmental organizations, business and civic leaders, academics, sustainable farmers and animal welfare groups.
Although the House Environmental Affairs Committee missed its opportunity this year to pass comprehensive CAFO-reform, having a hearing on the Bill was a necessary first step in educating lawmakers and the public. Indeed, members of the House Environmental Affairs Committee heard testimony from a Republican lawmaker, a physician/public health expert, a hydrologist, a property valuation expert, an expert in CAFO air pollution control technologies, and Indiana Farmers Union leaders all providing compelling, credible testimony on the human suffering, health, environmental and economic impacts caused by factory farms. Along with a standing-room-only crowd, these experts were unified in calling on committee members to pass HB 1378.
While members of the Committee disregarded this expert call to action, the fight is not over. As more and more Hoosiers speak up to their lawmakers about how current law is failing to protect our air, land, waterways, and people from factory farms, members of the General Assembly will be compelled to act for the well-being of the communities they represent. That means we can’t give up! We must continue to push for comprehensive CAFO-reform legislation.
What You Can Do
HEC will make sure that the CAFO-reform bill is reintroduced again next year. But in the interim, you must:
- Keep talking about the need for reform of Indiana’s factory farm laws so that they are truly protective of the health of Hoosiers.
- Talk to lawmakers at Third House meetings.
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
- Schedule a meeting, in your legislative district, with your representative and senator.
- To find out other ways to help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your advocacy!