The Indiana General Assembly – make that the Republican assembly – just can’t get enough of snatching power away from county and local authorities.  Their latest effort is to abuse the power to amend our Indiana Constitution to protect the big business of factory farming – those confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that are hazardous to our health and our environment.

As this year’s session ended, little attention was paid to a number of legislative efforts that made it through.  One of those “under the radar” pieces of legislation is Senate Joint Resolution 9.  The disingenuous caption given to this slippery piece of legislation is “Constitutional right to hunt and fish.”

Ah, one might ask just what is wrong with protecting hunting and fishing?  Were that the only wording, it might be somewhat palatable even if it is an absurd use of the amending power.  But the text of the Resolution reads as follows:

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HUNT AND FISH.  Provides that the people have a right to hunt, fish, harvest game, or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products, which is a valued part of our heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject to laws prescribed by the general assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the general assembly.  Provides that hunting and fishing is the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife.  Provides that this constitutional amendment does not limit the application of any laws relating to trespass or property rights.  This proposed amendment has not been previously agreed to by a general assembly.

The Republicans are abusing the amending power by enshrining forever what they have determined to be a constitutional right to hunt and fish.  But this isn’t the real reason for the disingenuous use of the amending process.  Notice the addition of the “right” to engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products.  Calling these a “valued” part of our heritage is absolutely absurd.

What the Republicans are really attempting to do is constitutionally protect the mega-farms of which Daniels is so fond and remove any county and local attempts to limit their construction or regulation.  Recall back in 2005, Daniels and his subservient Lieutenant Governor, Becky Skillman, came up with their “Possibilities Unbound.”  The plan was to double hog production as well as increase other forms of livestock production.

The amendment was just put forth in this session, so it must go through additional passages and be placed on the ballot for voter approval.  Of course, who wouldn’t want to memorialize hunting and fishing as our “heritage” – picturing those musket-toting Hoosier ancestors out there in the woods and fields of Indiana – coonskin caps pulled jauntily to the side covering heads full of bushy hair.

But hiding under visions of frontier hunters hauling home their kill for the sustenance of their families is a flat-out misrepresentation of the true intentions of Republican Senate Joint Resolution 9.  The big agricultural forces have inserted their sticky, manure-covered fingers into the pockets of the Republicans and have come up with an amendment that, while raising visions of rough and tough Hoosier hunters and fishers on the prowl, actually protects  hazardous CAFOs – factory farms so far from our ancestral ideals of hunting and fishing that would our ancestors be here, they would be saying “shame on you” for even attempting a comparison.

Confined Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO)

CAFO where thousands of animals are confined with no access to the outdoors

Compare the above picture to the accepted notion of hunting and fishing.

Angler enjoying the solitude of fishing

The public needs to understand that, should they be fooled into adopting this amendment, local and county control of factory farms will be gone.  Local control will be replaced with rules made by the Republican-controlled and factory farm friendly General Assembly – just another Republican ploy to remove local control.  Haven’t we seem enough of this lately?


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.
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  1. But if farming was a union-run business, it’d be okay, right? Actually, I do agree with you on this, but I wonder if this would be a go-to tactic if both sides weren’t in such an all-or-nothing mode anymore.

  2. JC says:

    As I was reading this, I wondered if this might be to preserve Hoosier’s right to produce their own food? Take a look at the NAIS (National Animal Identification System) which will track all animals from birth to dinner table. I admit to reading more of my share of conspiracy sites, but there is no denying NAIS is being pushed to cut the little guy out. I do see where the text you cited refers to commercial and agrigultural. I would feel a whole lot better if it said INDIVIDUAL rights. These are scary times.

  3. Laurie:

    Heavens no. This isn’t a union or non-union issue. This goes to the mega-farms that are destroying the quality of the food supply by maintaining animals in quarters so confined that daily antibiotics must be given or disease will run rampant. Hormones are standard operating procedure anymore to get the animal to pile on weight more quickly.

    Then there is the issue of the increased manure production and where it goes. Many rivers are full of e. coli due to the runoff from fields over-saturated with manure.

    This legislation is directed at ensuring mega-farms are in a position to virtually take over the livestock industry. No where in this country’s history or the history of Indiana can you find a constitutional right to commercial farming. It also isn’t a go-to tactic since the Republicans are attempting to take away local authority to use set back and zoning regulations to protect their residents.

    If you notice, the Republicans built in the authority to control the making of rules.

  4. cw martin says:

    From the Tilting at windmills family to you, Happy Thanksgiving!

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