PIG PURGATORY

My title to my first, long ago posts on CAFOs was “Hog Heaven or Pig Purgatory?” I always thought it should be pig purgatory, and I now no longer have any doubts. This short post is about zoning and the lack thereof in reference to CAFOs.

I took the following steps to gather information about the newest CAFO in southern Allen County:

  1. Contacted Thomas Park, IDEM, to request a copy of the application and manure distribution plan
  2. Contacted the Allen County Department of Planning and spoke to two individuals
  3. Contacted the Wells County Plan Commission (the manure is being distributed on Wells County land)

I found out a number of interesting and disturbing things. If the application meets with IDEM standards, then it will be approved. Unless counties have taken the initiative to pass a zoning ordinance specific to CAFO issues, they have little option other than to stand by while IDEM continues its plopping down of these environmental hazards in rural Indiana.

Allen County is one of those counties which has no ordinance specific to CAFOs. Although the county has a new plan called “Plan-It Allen”, it is only a suggested plan and is not law. Therefore, anything contained in the plan is merely what the proponents would like to see. The Plan states that it “provides a framework for future decision making” and that it is “advisory in nature”. IT DOES NOT HAVE THE FORCE OF LAW.

What does have the force of law are the 1960s antiquated Allen County land zoning ordinances which do not take into account the agricultural phenomenon of CAFOs which have been sprung upon the state by Daniels and Skillman. The below is from the County’s website:

THE ALLEN COUNTY, INDIANA,
ZONING ORDINANCE
ALLEN COUNTY CODE – TITLE 3
An Ordinance to limit, regulate, and restricts the development of the jurisdictional
area of the Allen County, Indiana Plan Commission by:
(1) Dividing said jurisdictional area into districts or zones which limit, regulate,
and restrict the location, height, bulk and size of buildings and other structures,
building lines, minimum frontages, depth and areas of lots, and percentages
of lots which may be occupied; the size of yards, courts, and other
open spaces; the erection of temporary stands and structures; the density and
distribution of population; the use of land, buildings, structures and premises
for trade, industry, residence, recreation, agricultural, public activities, and
other purposes;
(2) Showing said division of the jurisdictional area on a set of maps, adopted as
part of this Ordinance and entitled: “Zoning Map of the Allen County Indiana
Plan Commission’s Jurisdictional Area” dated February 2, 1960;

(3) Providing for the administration of this Ordinance, for fees for services in
connection therewith, and for the enforcement of these regulations;
Now be it ordained by the Board of Commissioners of the County of Allen,
Indiana, under authority of Chapter 174, Acts of 1947, General Assembly of
the State of Indiana, and all acts amendatory thereto.

Although Allen County has not yet seen the explosive growth occurring in other counties, it may very well be coming. With no regulations to stop these factory farms and minimal notice requirements, look for CAFOs to begin to pop up in our rural areas.

Wells County – to the south of Allen County – is now home to 10 CAFOs. The individual I spoke to stated that counties have not been able to keep up – in other words to act fast enough to put restrictions in place. A CAFO can be approved in 30-45 days, a time period that is not amenable to holding public hearings and gathering input from the public.

What is really disturbing is that no public input is required for these factory farms – none, nada, zip. As I mentioned earlier, if the application is in order, the state will approve it without a second glance, and the affected county will have little recourse but to stand by and watch if the land bears the proper zoning classification.

The exclusion of public input is unacceptable. The public has every right to be involved in the process of CAFO permitting since the effects of CAFOs impact not only the particular CAFO owner and his or her environment but also the public through contamination of ground water reservoirs and surface water supplies such as our rivers.

I was instructed to contact Bill Brown, a county commissioner, to express my concerns about the issue of CAFOs and inadequate regulations. If anyone out there is as concerned as I am about the issue, please contact Mr. Brown to let him know your thoughts. The plan commission is charged with overseeing zoning regulations and use regulations. I intend to contact Mr. Brown this coming week. Action needs to be taken before Allen County becomes one large factory farm – and becomes just another link in the Daniels experiment of exploitation.

Next post – coming to your town – the Schuhler CAFO.


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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, Business, Confined Animal Feeding Operations, Environment, Mitch Daniels, Rivers. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to PIG PURGATORY

  1. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Charlotte,

    Where is the mess going to be built and the type of holding operations. Or is this what you are waiting for.

    Allen County could request a public hearing prior to the permit being issued. That can come from the commish.

    While blaming the Gov has merit it also our local government who are not doing a thing. They where notified shortly after the permit was requested. Yet, they have set on thier hands. So maybe it is time for them to go.

    I would think one of our river groups would take this to the media. Or when the County Commish meet next week that someone would talk to them during the open mike period at the end of the meeting. Let the media know it was going to happen and they may cover the story then.

  2. I just received that info yesterday and am trying to weed through it. I will be working on a post later today on that. Believe it or not, the location is near Snyder Ditch and may very well be within a floodplain. This may be the only way to stop it.

    I do blame the governor much more so than our commissioners. Daniels and Skillman put out their “Possibilities Unbound” plan in late 2005. One of the goals was the doubling of pork production by around 2010. In addition, IDEM loosened up its regs which allowed more permits to be filed and approved. From 2003 until January 2006, only 7 CAFO permits were filed. In 2006 alone, 198 CAFO applications were received with only 9 being withdrawn.

    Of those 189 permits, 144 were already approved at the time the info was put out on the internet this past summer. Forty five other were pending approval, and I can almost guarantee most of them were ultimately approved. The number of permits and approvals in conjunction with IDEM’s slacking off its regs and Daniels and Skillman pushing for increased pork production is much more than a coincidence. This is a matter of Daniels exploiting a situation before the public even has a grasp of the environmental issues or the harm that can be caused by these factory farms.

    The commissioners could request a hearing, but there isn’t much time between the filing of a notice and the approval of the CAFO. The average approval time is 71 days. That means something has to be organized quickly to get the issue in front of the public. The statutory limit is 90 days. I also think the reality of CAFOs didn’t occur to many officials until it was too late.

    The individual I spoke to in Wells County just felt that it caught them off guard and they couldn’t move fast enough to stop many of the ones in the pipeline. They do have an ordinance that takes effect in February, but until then he said there isn’t much they can do.

    In the Schuhler case, the notice was sent out on October 30th. It was published in the newspaper on November 6th. That means that somehow the public has to be brought in quickly. I know the person I spoke with at the Planning Services department didn’t think there was much that could be done to stop it if the zoning was correct and everything was in order.

    We are just at the beginning of what Daniels wants to do with the CAFOs, in particular hog CAFOs. This is not just a farm here and there, this involves hundreds of permits and approvals each year with millions and millions of pounds of waste produced.

  3. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Well, the flood plain is one key? How much storage cap will they have for the winter months when you can not spray fields? How heavy of loads will be moved out onto the road way as it could excede the design of the road? Once that truck hits the road it will be a commericial truck I believe. What bridges will the trucks cross that may have weight limits on them?

    There is clear studies breathing problems for workers and people living close by. The county claims they have no right to get involved. Maybe they are just buck passing this.

    This is why we have dummies who do away with the capitol bridge fund money and now say they can not fix the bridges in the county. Because like dumb butts we keep electing them.

    We give them the easy pass of saying they can not do a thing. That is pure BS. There are small counties all over Indiana that have gotten publci hearings on these operations. I would think our GOP elected people in Allen County would get off their rears and get a hearing. If not maybe come the next election we send a few more into retirement.

    I could care less what party the officials belong to I will harp on this issue until they either get a hearing or they are voted out of office. That is my promise to each of them!

    Wake up people. This is like OmniSource spilling into our river and screwing up our air quality.

  4. J.Q.

    Give me a little time today. I didn’t get my post done yesterday, but this packet I received from IDEM is about 80+ pages. I just need to sit down and work through what info I want to highlight for the update.

  5. Brian Cotswald says:

    I think it is time we have a public comment period anytime someone wants to build a home in Ag Zoned areas. It is far time government stops the sell off of our agriculture zoned land to city people that do not appreciate what agriculture offers them.

  6. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Brian,

    I have no problem of trying to avoid the use of farm land for housing. CAFOs are a business that was not around when farming was started. CAFOs offer many problems that only major industrial businesses offer an area. They should fall under thier own rules of operation.

    I agree if I buy a house next to regular hog farm business I should not have right to shut it down because of the smell. The farm was there first. But a CAFO is not even close to being a normal hog farming operation.

  7. Brian:

    I agree that the time has come to allow public input on the use of agricultural land. My great-grandfather was a farmer, and I was married to a farmer.

    Farms no longer have the characteristics for which they were once known. Farms are now falling into the hands of corporations and smaller farms are disappearing year by year.

    In 2001, the number of CAFOs and CFOs that raised livestock numbered:

    Swine – 2,325
    Beef – 299
    Dairy – 259
    Chickens – 206
    Turkeys – 156
    Ducks – 16
    Sheep – 9

    Today those numbers are:

    Swine – 1,752
    Beef – 192
    Dairy – 195
    Chickens – 155
    Turkeys – 149
    Ducks – 11
    Sheep – 7

    Although the loss is in CAFOs and CFOs, which are already larger farms, the number of animals raised is increasing. For instance, in 2001, the number of swine raised was 4,183,753; in 2007, it was 4,695,904.

    This trend toward larger and larger farms raising more of the livestock is leading to the death of the small farm as we know it.

    Agricultural land is being snapped up left and right by developers who do nothing more than create “Pleasant Valley Sunday” subdivisions. Planning boards and commissions seem to be paralyzed when it comes to saying no to the developers.

    And, that is a reason that all of us should care about and be involved in what happens to our agricultural land and heritage.

  8. Brian Cotswald says:

    Here is what no one seems to understand. a CAFO (that bad four letter word) is NOT that many pigs. To be a CAFO, you only have to have 2500 pigs on one farm site. That is a very small operation any more. There is no way a person can make a living off of the small farms that you remember as a kid. I am sorry to say that – but it can not happen and it will not happen, those days are gone. “Big CAFO farms” did not destroy those small farms. Those small farms grew into CAFOs. I know because I am one of them. I am a seventh generation family farm that has grown with every generation. I am now one of those big bad CAFOs you all fear.
    Help me here – with all due seriousness, how are we (farmers) going to continue to feed this world and all the people if we can not grow and do it in a way we can make enough money to raise our own family? I only bring home $40,000 a year for a family of four. My wife works full time… we love our life, we wish for nothing, my kids love to be outside and work with me on the farm. My son told me just this weekend, he would like to come back to the family business. (Music to any farm Dad’s ears) But – I fear there is NOT going to be a farm in his generation because we can not grow to keep our income up.
    Your thoughts?

    BC

  9. Brian:

    A CAFO of 2500 pigs really is that many pigs when you are talking about the disposal of manure. In the past, small farms were able to dispose of the manure on fields as a fertilizer. The quantity was much lower and was absorbed by the land. Today’s operations have increased that waste to unimaginable quantities – millions and millions of gallons of liquid manure that needs to go somewhere.

    I am just curious though, how many acres do you have on your farm? Does your business include farming the land to harvest the crops for feed, or is it strictly in raising hogs rather than farming the land?

    When you ask my thoughts on farming, I know that the farm of old is rapidly disappearing. The version of farming with which I grew up, both as a child and as an adult,usually involved crop planting and then harvesting the crops to feed the livestock. While we bought some feed for our livestock from outside sources, much of it was raised on the 2,000 acres that my husband and his family farmed together.

    If you look at the size of the farms in Indiana (and probably nationwide), they are getting larger while the number is shrinking. What really concerns me is the corporate takeover of the agricultural business. The Environmental Working Group has a great website that tracks subsidies to “farms.” http://farm.ewg.org/sites/farmbill2007/dpanalysis.php

    I haven’t had a chance to analyze the subsidies, but from what I have preliminarily read is that the large corporate entities tend to be the ones that benefit.

    I would also posit – and I realize this is not a popular position – that increasing meat intake is not the healthiest of lifestyles. The plan by Daniels and Skillman is to sell the increased pork production overseas, not to American consumers. I would argue that as more nations such as China become wealthier, they will become more dependent on meat products as a way of life. The alteration in diet will eventually lead to those nations beginning to suffer from many of the same health issues that now face Americans because of our diet and lifestyles.

    My primary concern about CAFOs is the environmental issues that arise from the disposal of those millions and millions of gallons of manure. In appropriate quantities, the manure is beneficial to the land, but in the tremendous amounts being generated, it has an impact that causes health issues and environmental issues.

  10. Brian Cotswald says:

    We raise hogs and farm 1000 acres. On top of that we work with another local farmer that has about 1000 acres. So all of our nutrients are utilized back on our crop ground, cutting our need for commercial fertilizer. All nutrients are injected under the ground in early spring, before crops are planted, or in fall after crops are harvested. I argue that the increased manure does not mean it is being placed so heavy on the land that it is causing problems. Arguably, that is a management issue for sure. In following our IDEM nutrient management plan, we are placing far less manure per acre than my grandfather did when he had only 100 sows. Reason is we now know better, and are required by IDEM to handle these nutrients in a more crop friendly manor. We haul the nutrients miles away, while grandfather used to only spread on the closest fields. The only thing more manure means is that the farm must utilize that on more acres. So, you will see more hauling of nutrients in semis, or use of drag line hoses to reach additional farm ground. The fact is that Indiana has far more crop land that could be utilized for nutrient application if crop farmers and livestock farmers would pool their resources and work more together.
    The eating of protein in the form of meat is a personal choice and not one I wish to argue. The fact is, agriculture products is one of the ONLY areas that the US actually exports more than we import. It is a very important factor to our economy. I don’t know about you, but in light of the recent problems with items imported from foreign countries – my food supply is one I would rather know is being raised right here, under the laws and restrictions we have.
    The true fact is that the environmental issues of larger farms CAN be met safely. Now, that is not to say every farm owner/manager does things the correct way. That being said, what we ALL need, is to allow IDEM the laws and the “teeth” to deal with those owner/managers that choose to do things wrong. Indiana Pork producers tried to get those laws pasts last year, and they were defeated by those wanting such strict laws that it would impede our operations. Let’s work together and come up with a solution that we all can live with.

  11. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Brian,

    You used the key words of, “proper management!” Most people object because the lack of proper management and the fact IDEM does not come down on those that break the law. It is like a semi “free pass.”

    We care about our waters and air quailty. Under proper management both issues can be addressed correctly. However, we have seen first hand what happens when “proper management” is not employed. Streams are screwed up and the air quality for neighbors is degraded.

    The CAFO permit being considered for southern Allen County is going to be over 20 times its current size. Why should the people who have built homes within a 1/4 mile be subject to the decreased air quality and so forth?

    I do not support people who move next to a farming operation and then cry out about the farm operation as it was there before the home buyer was. This is the reverse.

    While I understand your point about proper spreading of manure but what about the improper? Where the level of spreading is way to high and quickly reaches field tile to be carried into nearby streams and rivers.

    Farming is the backbone of america. But farming has to be done without risk of injury or harm to others.

    If IDEM had the power or guts to make sure these operations operated correctly I don’t think you would hear much complaining. We have river bottom covered with PCBs, settled out DDT, and other heavy chemicals. This all happened under our trust of government watching out for us.

  12. Brian:

    You mention handling the manure in a “crop friendly” way, but the issue is not handling the waste to benefit crops – it is the environmental issue of the impact of runoff into rivers and seepage through the ground into ground water resources.

    If IDEM only looks at how to handle the manure as it impacts crops, them IDEM has not fulfilled its role of protecting our environment.

    One of the points I continue to raise is that IDEM has very few laws and restrictions with teeth. Indiana went for over 20 years without regulating CAFOs at all. Until 2001, Indiana did not require CFOs to obtain permits, and IDEM did not even inspect CFOs until 1999.

    It took a federal court case several years ago in 2002 to get IDEM to really begin to deal with the issues. And, what was IDEM’s reaction to the case? It lengthened the time period required to provide a soil conservation plan from December 31, 2006 to December 31, 2009. (See 327 IAC 15-15-11 Soil conservation practice plan).

    If you look at IDEM’s actions, you will see why I do not have much faith in their ability to regulate the issue of CAFOs.

    You mentioned in an earlier post that the public should have input anytime that people want to build in an agricultural zone. Public input shouldn’t be allowed just in those cases; it should also be allowed when issues such as CAFOs come up. The environmental impact affects an entire area not just one farm.

    I still believe the issue of waste is the issue with which we must deal in order to protect our water resources. As far as I can tell, this hasn’t been addressed by IDEM to any great degree other than to approve the waste handling plans with little oversight. I believe I read also that inspections only occur every 5 years.

  13. Brian Cotswald says:

    Yes, “proper management” The facts are, that over 90 percent of the farms in Indiana are, in fact, being run properly and causing NO environmental problems. Unfortunately, you (any many, many others) are upset at the minority and taking it out on the rest of us.
    This is why I feel we can BOTH agree on the point that laws need to change to allow IDEM more power to deal with those few that are causing the harm. As the laws are now,
    That dairy operation in Huntington, IN that has caused all the spills and problems in that region – he applied for an IDEM permit to expand his operation – IDEM issued him that permit. This fact further upset a lot of people. But what they do not understand is that under Indiana law, IDEM had no choice but to issue that permit. As long as the farm operation met all the requirements on that NEW construction application, that is all that IDEM is allowed (under current law) to look at. They (IDEM) can not look at past violations, past problems, etc. That law needs to be updated. Indiana Pork Producers wanted it changed, IDEM wanted it changed, Indiana State Dept of Ag wanted it changed, (groups like) you wanted it changed – but guess what – it did NOT get changed, because our lawmakers deadlocked on some stupid little issues and let a big hole continue to be law.
    Allow me to enlighten you on some other facts. Indiana has had permitting procedures for confined feeding operations since 1971. Those procedures were administered by the Indiana Board of Health, then more recently by the Indiana Dept. of Environmental Management (IDEM) In 1992, IDEM revised and updated the guidelines for the Confined Feeding Law (CFL). Since that time, several changes and much needed updates have accord in that CFL. Confinement buildings were just starting to be built by 1971. Our first building was built in 1968 and we were very ahead of the curve in this area. Indiana did a very good job at being proactive in this area, unlike North Carolina. So many people say Indiana should have a moratorium because N.C. learned they needed to have one. The facts are that N.C. had basically NO environmental rules when all that expansion took place there. I know for a fact, because I was there. Lagoons were built on sand-type soils with no liners. It was nuts! Indiana would never have allowed this. We build our first lagoon system in 1970. It was designed by the Ag engineering team at Purdue University. By the mid-seventy’s, we had to get our first CFO permits from IDEM (or maybe it was the Dept of Health, I forget now) We were inspected every couple years. I build another large unit in 1992. I had to go through very extensive regulations and permitting. I was (and continue to be) inspected at that time. I am currently building another unit. I have been inspected three times during the building process so far. Farmers I know do know care if we are inspected every year – we do the paper work that is required every day, what does it matter if an inspector stops in and looks things over?
    I am not trying to defend IDEM, that is their job. Certainly I feel they need to be doing a better job and they need to regain the public’s trust and support. Doing that, will actually help us farmers who are taking steps to do things right and safe guard the environment and our livelihood.
    As far as “Public input” being mandated, I am unsure if I agree with that. I see your point…..okay…. the problem is Mr and Mrs Average Person no longer understands modern farming as a business. We are now 2 or 3 generations away from exposure to the farm. Many things are so very different than 30 years ago. I feel like we (as farmers) must do a better job at educating our non-farm neighbors and that is our fault of not doing that. We held an open house for our community leaders a couple years ago and tried to help them understand what all is involved in today’s agriculture. We will hold another open house when this new unit is completed to do more of the same. But it is a slow process and other farmers need to do the same. I just hope you and your readers will offer us an open mind to the whole complex issue.

  14. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Brian,

    It is the old story that we have to make laws because of the few who cheat. We do not hear about the people who do not break the law.

    So, who was behind the changes getting killed down state? There has to be some people behind the scenes that pushed for the killing of the changes. Could it be the national or international companies that own some of these operations?

    I would love for you to know when you have your open house to learn more. Maybe you can post it here on Charlotte’s blog.

    The problem is if the farmers like you don’t push for the improved changes they will come someday after a major event. However, it will be a “knee jerk” reaction that will have so many new rules and regs that people like you will be forced out.

  15. I am on my way out the door for work, but if anyone is interested, please read the federal court case of:

    Save the Valley, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 223 F. Supp. 2d 997 (S.D. Ind. 2002).

    The case arose out of IDEM’s failure to regulate properly and the EPA’s failure to ensure that Indiana was complying with NPDES permit standards and requirements.

    It is rather lengthy, but it contains a history of Indiana and IDEM’s failure to regulate CFOs and CAFOs. Once you read the case, I would think anyone would find it hard to defend Indiana and IDEM’s actions when it comes to regulating CFOs and CAFOs.

    I will post a summary of the case later with a link to it, if possible.

  16. Brian Cotswald says:

    I am familiar with the suit. You make it sound like IDEM was not regulating feeding operations before this action, which is far from the truth. The state had rules and was enforcing them, the case was about the fact that Indiana did not have an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) program. At that time, the state did not have one, however those farms that now fall under the CAFO regs were being regulated as CFOs. (Confined Feedlot Operations) Larger units, like myself, were required to obtain a NPDES permit in 2003. There were several new requirements that went beyond the existing Indiana CFO rules. For instance, one of the new rules is that I now must inspect all the water lines in my buildings each day and fill out a report stating that I have done so. I must then record any repairs needed and what I have done to make those repairs. Now, here is that part that should make you feel all warm and fuzzy that our government is protecting you….. I have 30 days to make those repairs and note what I have done. Do you have any idea how much water would blow out of a broken water pipe in 30 days!! That is just some of the new, additional regs we face with the NPDES permits. Most all good managers were doing these things in the first place and very little to provide additional protection to the environment. It stills boils down to a owner/manager doing what is right – again “proper management.”

  17. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Brian,

    The guys who live by “proper management” are never heard from. They play by the rules and laws. They don’t cut corners. They spend the dollars when needed or required.

    The issue is the ones who DO NOT USE PROPER MANAGEMENT. The ones who spread manure on frozen fields in winter because their tanks are full. The ones who do not keep equipment in good running order that results in spills.

    Self Policing is the best policy of any group. Hence, you fellows who do live by proper management should push for laws with teeth in them to nail the guys who do not. Until such time, right or wrong, you get all tossed into the same group of “bad management!”

    I do thank you for bringing insight into the discussion here.

  18. Brian:

    I did not say IDEM was not regulating feeding actions – I said they were not “regulating properly.” That is a big difference. The court found that IDEM was not in compliance with the NPDES program and ordered it to bring itself into compliance withing 120 days.

    If an agency is not in compliance, then it is doing something wrong and not managing properly. In all of your posts so far you have not addressed the environmental concerns of air quality, water quality, and soil quality that are and will continue to be affected by increasing numbers of CAFOs.

    I do not oppose AFOs, in general; however, the nation-wide discussion cannot be held without addressing those concerns. Going from generating hundreds of gallons of manure to millions of gallons of manure is an issue that cannot be dismissed.

  19. Brian Cotswald says:

    I would be glad to address environmental concerns. It is a complex issue and I will offer my perspective in segments. I don’t have the time to sit here and cover all issues at once.
    Let’s start with “why so darn big”: Please understand the whole farming/agriculture industry, just like ANY industry, has to be willing and able to change with the times, or face extinction. The world is not going to stop eating, so extinction in this case means moving to other countries and the US imports these products. Can we agree to this point? That a farmer must be able to make a living, comparable to their non-farm neighbors, so they can offer their family’s the same standard of living as “you”?
    Agriculture is the only industry that has to buy all its inputs at retail, then turn around and sell its goods at wholesale. In no way are we able to set our price for our products, we are paid what the supply and demand market dictates. And dependable, safe, low-cost, food is a demand of the American consumer. In 1980, the American consumer spent 14.2% of their income on food. In 1992, they spent 11.7%, in 2005 they spent 9.9%. As for other countries: Canada will spend 11.7%, Germany 13.1%, and the U.K. 16.4%.
    Size (for the most part) will mean more efficient, least cost. A larger unit can spread their cost of labor over more pigs. A higher paid, “Unit manager” can easily oversee the work needed to raise about 3000 sows. You are going to have to pay that same wage to get a manager whether you raise 3000 sows or 600 sows…. It’s the competing rate of the community in which you live, so being able to spread that rate out over more animals reduces your over head costs. Read the story of Wal-Mart. Love them or hate them, they are very successful, from a business stand point. And what is making them successful is that they are giving their customers what they want – and customers are buying from them.
    Because I can not go to you and say….”you know, LP prices have gone way up, my employees want more money, my medical insurance for my employees is out of this world…… I really need you to pay more for that ham this year….” ( I know, you are vegetarian, but the same applies to vegetables) The only way I can make more money this year over last year, is increase my efficacy. You can only do that to a certain point. A pig will only physically raise so many babies, then I am faced with the need to grow to increase my income. And the cycle continues.
    I know and understand the swine industry. I assume the concept of “larger is more efficient and there for less cost” is the same for dairy and all other agriculture segments. But you don’t want to hear this. You want to say to me….ah, but does larger, more less cost, really mean it is “better” in the long run? That’s a tough question. The short answer may be “no.” Is it really “better”
    to have that Super Wal-Mart in town rather than having 3 smaller grocery stores, two local owned dress shops, a couple drug stores, etc….. unfortunately, the consumer (who ultimately drives everything business does) does not always do what is “best”. So, as a business owner, I am left to deal with giving the consumer what they “want” vs what is “best”. Giving what they want is going to win – they pay for what they want, not what is best.
    So, how can agriculture give the consumer what they want and still do it in a responsible way? I say it can (and is) be done. I will break it down later. Let’s have a great time of Thanksgiving first.

  20. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Brian,

    I still would like to hear how we address the “proper management” from those who do not follow such. To me the rest of what you posted is interesting but it does not address the spills and other screw ups that take place.

  21. Brian Cotswald says:

    Accidents can happen to any business at any time. But there is a line between a farm having a rare accidental discharge, or accident and a farm that has multiple violations. Speaking for the farms, I don’t think the majority of us would have a problem with giving more “teeth” to our current laws that would allow a governing body the power to close down a repeat offender. I do not feel we need more laws, period. Our industry operates under a “zero discharge” order. That clearly means we are to have NO manure getting into the waters of the State of Indiana. How much more clear do we need it? One thing a lot of farm operators fear, is some over zealous governing body that would have the power to close down an operation at their whim, bowing to pressure from anti-CAFO people and not based on actual problems, but on unfounded fears. So we need checks and balances, but not loop holes.
    I think the majority of proven problems would be traced back to a very few violators in specific areas. And IDEM needs to be able to deal with those firmly on a case by case basis. Then you have the bigger problem of anti-CAFO, anti-“large farm”, “corporate farms”, call it what you will – there is a problem with them making broad general statements that incubus all of us that raise animals – that we are all bad for the state, bad for the environment, bad to our animals, etc. They offer no specific, proven facts to trace back to any violator, or they bring up the same violator over and over again. And they are never willing to offer any workable suggestions of what we can do – only how bad we are and that we must just stop. We need to separate out the fact from the fiction and only worry about dealing with the fact. I think we will find that much easier to deal with.

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