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Serving: IN

Think Carefully Before You Oppose Another Farmer's Livelihood

Think Carefully Before You Oppose Another Farmer's Livelihood
The next time the target of a government law or ordinance might be you.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann says she wants Indiana to remain a good state for doing business if you're raising hogs. The actions of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture so far since its inception fewer than 10 years ago bear that out. ISDA has promoted bringing more pork-related industry to the state, and continues to do so.

Saying that in front of a friendly crowd at the Indiana Pork breakfast kicking off the Indiana State Fair is one thing. Getting county residents who get caught up in emotion because another "pig factory" might be coming next door is quite another.

Think twice before criticizing: The next time the target of a government law or ordinance might be you.

An Indiana pork producer who recently won a battle to obtain a permit to build new hog buildings in a semi-rural county says it can be a tough fight. What's most discouraging is that some of the biggest opponents in some of these incidences are other farmers. It was true in this farmer's case, who shall remain nameless, but it's also been true in several other cases which turned into local zoning fights over the past several years all over the state.

Pitting livestock producers against grain farmers isn't something agriculture needs. With the vast majority of Americans now being removed from the farm, educating them is a Herculean task. Having to reeducate people who still farm too, but don't raise livestock, just adds to the burden.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose developments, including livestock confinement units. Usually that boils down to the fact that the unit wasn't well-planned, the proposed producer hasn't done his or her homework, or they're seeking a variance to do something zoning doesn't allow. None of that was the case in this most recent example.

One issue that particularly bothered the producer involved was that a sticking point was the extra traffic on the roads that would be created by a new hog operation. After some thought he determined that existing grain operations with lots of on-farm storage send trucks up and down the road more than his new hog unit will.

Who will be there to back you when someone decides your grain operation is too noisy, use the road too much or creates too much dust? Cases involving neighbors suing or reporting farmers to regulators farmers over dust for just combining their fields have already occurred in the state.

The main point here seems simple. Farmers need to stick together as much as possible. If something that someone wants to do isn't well-thought out or legal, that's one thing. If it is, be sure you're rock proof and don't have a glass barn before you start throwing stones.

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