The Indiana Legislature's Interim Study Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources is considering whether any changes should be made to Indiana confined feeding laws. The Committee met on August 29, September 19, and October 19. It heard testimony from the Indiana Farm Bureau, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM), the Indiana Department of Agriculture, animal activists, environmental interest groups, farmers, industry groups, and individuals. The agenda for each meeting is available here.
Committee members from the House and Senate received extensive evidence from groups on all sides of the issue through oral and written testimony. Environmental interest groups and animal activists urged the legislature to enact more stringent laws related to livestock farms. IDEM and farmers explained the rigorous permitting process and the ongoing inspections farms undergo. Industry groups provided evidence of the economic value confined feeding operations bring to rural communities. An Indiana swine farm provided farm tours to reporters.
Testimony was also provided regarding the division between what IDEM regulates versus what a local county has the power to regulate. Under an exception to the “Home Rule” doctrine, a county cannot regulate the same issues IDEM already addresses. Powers withheld from a local government include conduct already regulated by a state agency. Witnesses discussed what IDEM and the counties could and should regulate.
Stay tuned - the Committee is expected to produce a report at or after its October 19 meeting. This report will provide guidance to the Legislature when session starts this winter as to whether any new bills should be introduced.