I am an opponent of Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and have made that position clear in the past. Governor Daniels and Lieutenant Governor Skillman have made it their priority to double pork production in the next few years, and, through their support of minimizing regulatory restrictions requiring CAFOs to provide manure disposal plans, the industry is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

However, a new Ball State study shows the pork industries in Jay and Randolph counties are virtually irrelevant to the local economy. This is anything but good news to those who support the notion that CAFOs are great for the economy and generate much-needed economic benefits which outweigh the environmental dangers.

The reason the CAFO industries have little or no effect? Easy, the corporate entities that run the vertically-integrated operations don’t buy locally, and the cloven-hoofed animals are shipped elsewhere for processing, thus denying local businesses the opportunity to profit not only at the front end but also at the tail end of the process. Feed is purchased from the cheapest sources outside the region, and most major purchases come from the outside. The money that is made is sent right back outside the region. But there is one product that the CAFO industry has been kind enough to leave in the region: manure.

In addition, since CAFOs are structured to use a minimal amount of labor, the operations don’t even generate much-needed jobs. What little employment is produced requires workers to be exposed to hazardous gases and toxins, thus limiting any “job creation” benefit that might occur.

As can be expected, Deb Abbott, a spokeswoman for the Indiana Department of Agriculture, dismissed the idea that CAFOs fail to generate economic benefit. She was joined, naturally, by Michael Platt, executive director of of the Indiana Pork Producers who called the Ball State study flawed. His allegation? The reporting of low average wages was inaccurate. No challenge to the fact that the corporations spend their profits outside the region, no challenge to the fact that CAFOs produce very little employment, and no challenge to the fact that CAFOs do not generate significant economic benefits to the region.

The Governor’s great plans to use “breakthrough technology” to double hog production may very well work; however, his vision of generating any economic benefit triggered by that same technology may very well fail.


About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Agriculture and Food Production, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, Economics, Environment, Trade. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. andy says:

    I am not a meat eater, but if I was, eating meat from a CAFO would definitely concern me. This can not be a healthy environment to raise an animal. Aside from the minimal economic impact this CAFO would have on Indiana’s economy, I don’t see it being a plus for its neighbors either.

    Here’s a link on a CAFO hog farm in Michigan:

  2. Pete says:

    After a search for info on the “breakthrough technologies,” I’m still wondering what they are exactly. One argument for CAFOs over-fertilizing fields is that family farms do the same, and that it might be better for the environment to concentrate swine manure geographically. Could that be the breakthrough?

    From what I’ve gathered, rural residents who complained about the toxic air were told, in effect, “this is what country life smells like, get used to it” — even though country life never smelled like that before CAFOs — and they had little say on local regulations.

    Also learned that Europe banned swine crating, so maybe there’s some useful information available on animal welfare?

  3. Charlotte A. Weybright says:


    Thanks for the info on European practices. I will have to do some research to see how Europe as well as other countries view CAFO issues.

  4. Don Wheeler says:

    I like your commentary and cross-posted it at the above website. Your link to the Ball State study is not working, however.

  5. Don:

    Thank you for the cross-post. I will go in and fix the link. I sometimes forget that news media links expire after a certain period of time, and it looks like that is what has happened to the link provided.

  6. ice-ironman says:

    So let me get this straight, HOG manure didnt smell in the past? I am so tired of hearing Europe does it so we have to. You can cut out CAFOs and your pork chop will be 10 bucks instead of 2. I have personaly spent eight hour days in these “toxic” enviroments. Must be pretty bad. I love it when cityits talk about things they dont know about. The best part is I didnt even know Ball State was still open. Here are the real Facts
    Feed will come localy
    Vet supplies also localy
    Vet will be local
    Slaughter-most likey localy but depends on contracts, not feasable to send them down the road with diesel fuel.
    Feed additives localy
    Supplies, Hardware and upkeep localy
    Equiptment (tractors and handling equipt) all local (will probably total two million plus)
    Ration Specialist local
    Builder could be local, have to wait and see
    Repairs for heat and cooling system, local
    Feed storage local (choretime brock North of Warsaw IN)
    Grain Storage Choretime also
    TSP(technical service provider) local (hired to maintain tight epa standards on Manure placement)
    Diesel fuel localy purchased
    Gasoline localy purchase
    Propane/Natural gas purchased localy
    Vehicles Purchased localy
    All farm vehicles and rolling stock serviced localy
    Heating and cooling equiptment localy
    Tires for Equiptment localy

    I could probably keep going but you get the picture
    Sincerly your local expert with more credentials on the environment than your hero Al Gore

    Come on thats funny—-cause its true

  7. Ice-ironman:

    Let the pork chop be $10. You can live without meat, and if you want meat, then pay for it.

    As a vegetarian, I really don’t care. Protein can be obtained from many sources other than meat.

  8. ice-ironman says:

    AS a meat eater I really dont care if the pigs are in creates. I think you put this one up for me! If BO gets in office he will pay for all of my stuff. Im making my list up now. You keep that attitude up and your sweet corn may be 10 dollars an ear:)

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