Our food system is harming Hoosiers and our environment.
Within the last few decades, the United States went from raising livestock on traditional farms owned by farm families, to “producing” livestock in highly mechanized, industrial operations controlled by a handful of giant corporations. Indiana is home to nearly 2,000 of these industrial-scale animal factories known as concentrated animal feeding operations (“CAFOs,”) or factory farms. A CAFO warehouses at least 1,000 cattle, 2,500 swine, or 100,000 fowl in a confined space. Today, more than 85% of all livestock “produced” in Indiana come from factory farms.
Our food and farming system is unsafe, unsustainable, and cruel.
Why are factory farms bad?Indiana’s factory farms produce enormous amounts of unregulated animal waste that causes serious harm to our public health and pollutes our air, land and waterways.
- Factory farms generate 14 times the amount of animal waste produced by Indiana’s human population.
- Industrial animal agriculture is the number one source of methane worldwide, and methane is 21 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
- The livestock sector is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global,” according to the United Nations.
- Factory farming is the leading source of water contamination–in our streams, rivers, and lakes, as well as our groundwater, or drinking water–because untreated manure is sprayed onto fields or stored in open pits that often leak.
- 99% of the US’s farmed animals spend their lives in factory farms.
- Animals on factory farms are not protected by any federal or state animal welfare laws, making it completely legal for factory farms to subject them to routine appalling treatment and living conditions.
Factory Farms in Indiana
For your reference, the following numbers classify a factory farm: 500 head of beef cattle; 500 dairy cows; 1,000 hogs; 500,000 broiler chickens (annual sales); 100,000 egg-laying chickens. According to Food and Water Watch, there are 1.6 billion animals confined in 25,000 U.S. factory farms. Indiana has more than 2,500 factory farms. You may click to enlarge this map of factory farms in Indiana.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into understanding factory farms in Indiana, read our Indiana Factory Farm Report.
Tell Congress To Pass The Farm System Reform ActOur current food and farming system is broken, but there is a way to feed the world without factory farms. The Farm System Reform Act is critical federal legislation that would be the first step towards creating a more sustainable food system that doesn’t exploit farmers, communities, farm animals, or the environment. It would enact an immediate moratorium on construction of new and expanding factory farms, with all large factory farms ceasing operation by 2040. Other benefits include offering voluntary debt forgiveness and assistance to farmers to transition to pasture-based farming or specialty and organic crop production and holding corporations responsible for pollution that they cause.
Indiana’s factory farms generate
times the amount of animal waste produced by Indiana’s human population.
of assessed stream miles are not suitable for recreational use because of E.coli contamination from animal waste.
The pollution strength of raw manure is
times greater than that of raw municipal sewage and is arguably more harmful than human waste.
Factory Farm Waste
Simply put, Indiana law does not adequately protect public health and the environment from factory farm waste. This is why HEC places education, citizen advocacy, and testifying in defense of rural communities as one of our top priorities! To that end, we have worked with a broad coalition of stakeholders in recent years to defeat dangerous bills that would have: further weakened Indiana’s regulation of factory farms; stripped local governments of their “Home Rule” authority to regulate factory farms; and given unprecedented special legal protections to factory farm operators to shield them from liability when they cause harm. Currently, we are working to pass the Farm System Reform Act, which would address the serious gaps in the regulation of factory farms and restore balance and fairness to farm policy.
HEC Factory Farm Cases
When education and advocacy fail, legal action is sometimes necessary to address the serious environmental threats caused by factory farms. Below is a list of our recent factory farm cases.
- HEC Wins Major Appellate Victory in Factory Farm Case
- Challenging Indiana’s Unjust Right to Farm Laws
- Fighting to Protect a Beloved Youth Camp From Construction of Massive Dairy CAFO
- Protecting the Kankakee River Basin from CAFO Pollution
- Protecting Mississinewa River Watershed and Muncie Residents from Massive Hog CAFO
Current Regulation Failures
Simply put, Indiana’s regulation of factory farms fails to protect our health and environment. This is why HEC places education, citizen advocacy, and pursuing legal strategies in support of rural communities and independent family farmers as our top priority! To that end, we have worked with a variety of stakeholders in recent years to defeat dangerous bills that would have: further weakened Indiana’s regulation of confined feeding operations (CFOs); stripped local governments of their “Home Rule” authority to regulate CFOs; and given unprecedented special legal protections to CFO operators to shield them from liability when they cause harm. We have also introduced first-ever legislation with bipartisan support that would address the many regulatory gaps that leave our rural communities unprotected from factory farm waste.
Right to Farm Reform
Currently, we are working to pass reform legislation that would address the serious gaps in Indiana’s oversight of factory farms and restore balance and fairness to Indiana’s unjust “Right to Farm” laws so that Hoosiers’ quality of life and property rights are protected.
How to Make a Difference
Send a Message to your Representative
Indiana’s laws continually fail to protect us from the harm caused by factory farms. That’s why it’s imperative that we support federal legislation that will end factory farming in the US and move our food system towards more sustainable methods. Help make a difference right now by asking your member of Congress to support the Farm System Reform Act!
Sign up to receive HEC’s periodic Food System Reform E-news which will update you about factory farm and food system reform issues in Indiana as well as ways you can get involved.
Host a Sustainable Food & Farming Forum
HEC conducts Sustainable Food & Farming Forums to empower citizens with the information they need to be effective voices in their local communities and statewide to help HEC advocate for a food system that doesn’t include factory farms. Help us build this movement and host one in your community by contacting our Senior Staff Attorney and Director of Agricultural Policy, Kim Ferraro.