Ted McKinney brought more than greetings to a large crowd of farmers gathered at the Ceres Solutions Perrysville location for a field day recently. The director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture brought good news, but he also delivered alarming news.
"Many businesses are looking at Indiana right now as a possible home base, and many are in agriculture," he says. "We have lots to offer in terms of lower taxes and other issues compared to neighboring states, especially Illinois.
"ISDA will do what it can to promote bringing food processing plants to Indiana. We see it as a way to help the Indiana economy. The governor and lt. governor are excited that we're pursuing these efforts."
At the same time, an Indiana county could put a regulation in place that would send a 'stay out' message to livestock confinement operations, and to processors that might consider coming to Indiana, but that need livestock production here to make such a move feasible.
McKinney reported that the Bartholomew County zoning board passed a moratorium on building new livestock operations by a five to three vote. The recommendation must still be approved by the County Commissioners. If approved, permits would not be granted to construct new livestock confinement facilities by the county as long as the moratorium remains in place.
The push for the moratorium apparently grew out of a permit fight to allow a county farmer to build livestock production facilities. The permit was finally granted, and he intends to construct the buildings for hogs. However, the debate took its toll and likely led to the proposed moratorium.
What concerns McKinney and others is that grain farmers were some of the most vocal opponents to allowing the farmer to build his facilities.
"Here's what we saw when people stopped a company from building a wind farm in north-central Indiana in Tipton and Clinton Counties," he says. "Before long urban people who didn't understand agriculture began saying out loud things like why not try to restrict farmers from running machinery in the middle of the night or creating dust clouds while combining soybeans?"
Talk about a slippery slope! McKinney is still hopeful Bartholomew County won't impose the moratorium.