Indiana neighbors frown on big pig operations

by Kevin Leininger

As far as Allen County land-use laws and Matt Schlatter are concerned, a farm is a farm. But to Charles Critchley and some of his neighbors, the presence of thousands of animals in a confined space isn't a farm at all - and should be treated accordingly.

Can the two sides find the common ground needed to prevent the increasingly common conflict between residential and agricultural interests? In the best American tradition, they have created a committee to find out. It's a worthy effort, and I wish them luck. They'll need it.

At issue are concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) and smaller confined feeding operations (CFOs) that raise livestock in confined spaces, bringing food to the animals instead of allowing them to graze outdoors. Because waste from thousands of confined animals can pose a threat to the water supply if not properly managed, the operations - 2,190 statewide and 22 in Allen County - are regulated by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. But, under the county's current zoning laws, they can operate on any land designated for agricultural use.

And that's just not good enough for Critchley, who has lived in the small southeast Allen County community of Maples for more than 40 years and is fighting a neighbor's attempt to operate a 4,000-hog CAFO a mile or so away.

“Ten or 20 hogs wouldn't bother us,” said Critchley, a retired engineer with General Dynamics, a military contractor. “But from our standpoint, not all farms are alike. To us, this is an industry. There needs to be a distinction (in the law) between farms and this CAFO, which would hurt our property values.” Critchley is also concerned that the exhaust from the facility could pollute the air - something not currently regulated by IDEM.

Read more at the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel.

No comments: