The constitutional amendment on many minds is the amendment banning same-sex marriage.  Another amendment, however, is also set to drastically change our lives and environment – by enshrining protection of industrial farming in the state constitution. Republicans just can’t seem to get enough of misusing the amendment process for their own agenda.

Republicans are anticipating that the attention on the marriage “inequality” amendment will allow SJR 7 – the Right to Hunt and Fish – to sail by the voters in November 2014 with little notice.

SJR 7 is an innocuous sounding Trojan horse being used as a means for those who want to see Indiana become the “land of CAFOs.” Its goal is to amend Article 1, Section 39 of the state Constitution by constitutionally protecting industrial farming over all other occupations and professions. The amendment is worded as follows:

Constitutional right to hunt and fish. 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 only to laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly. Hunting and fishing shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to limit the application of any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.

Hunting and fishing may be a part of our “heritage”, but industrial farming is not.  The Republicans know full well by captioning the amendment with the “Right to Hunt and Fish” that it will draw little opposition.  I mean, really, how un-American could one be to oppose hunting and fishing and the oft-cited patriotic reference to our “heritage.”

The amendment not only enshrines industrial farming in the Constitution but also rips away local control and places it with the state.  Local control using zoning and other regulations is a much-needed check on the explosion of factory farms that have been linked to health hazards and to environmental pollution through decreased air quality and manure runoffs into rivers. That control will be abolished and handed over to the state.

Manure pits filled with waste from the nearby CAFO

Manure pits filled with waste from the nearby CAFO

Industrial farming does not deserve constitutional protection, and, our local officials and citizens certainly do not deserve to lose even more control over local issues to the state legislature.


  1. But Charlotte, we ALL live off industrial farming. Unless you live completely off your garden, that is, I don’t know everything. And while I may be a bit dubious over making it a constitutional amendment rather than a law, there are enough left groups trying to shut down farming, livestock raising, hunting, etc., I regret to say I see it’s necessity.

    • CW – just to clarify – industrial factory farming is applicable to the livestock industry – not vegetables and fruits and grains. So, yes, if consumers eat meat, they are supporting industrial factory farming unless they buy meat from a local source with which they are familiar. I am a vegetarian and have been for close to 24 years now. I do not support industrial farming by my purchases since I do not eat meat of any kind – oysters, shrimp, fish, nothing.

      The amendment is not necessary. The large industrial livestock farms are doing just fine. If you research you will find that the creation of CAFOs has exploded in Indiana. And this has been the trend throughout the U.S. The problem has been that the laws have not caught up with the need to regulate CAFOs. While they may be regulated by federal standards – if they apply – Indiana was pretty much blind-sided by the growth. Daniels came out with a plan in 2005 called “Possibilities Unbound”, which urged the doubling of pork production in a short period of time.

      If you look at maps of the increase in CAFOs in Indiana, they exploded after that document was released, and the push toward CAFOs caught many off-guard. Thus, public education as to the hazards and impacts was slow to develop. Once it has, though, citizens are seeing the health impacts and environmental hazards that can arise from CAFOs. The groups you refer to as “left” are not just left-leaning groups. To be concerned about our environment – our water supply, our air, and our lands – is not just a left issue.

      IDEM is worthless as the only role it plays is to review the application for a CAFO. If everything is in order, IDEM has to approve it. The hearings that IDEM holds every now and then are for show and simply to allow them to say “See, we are listening.” They are impotent to change anything. The only protection for the environment and health is local zoning. The state wants to take that away. Local government has lost far too much control in many areas. To hand another area over to the state and one of such importance is not acceptable.

      For example, the controversial CAFO in Steuben County is to be built near several of the lakes. Are you kidding me? One manure spill that reaches any path to the lakes, and they are history. And, the large amounts of manure that are sprayed or injected into the ground work their way into aquifers and can contaminate wells.

      And, another hazard is the overuse of antibiotics and hormones that are given on a daily basis to the animals. The antibiotics and hormones are not completely absorbed and pass through the animals to be excreted in urine and feces. What stays in the animals passes through to humans when they eat the meat. There are many studies – Purdue has a good one – on the hazards of overuse of antibiotics and how they impact the environment and human health.

      Here is a map that shows CAFO proliferation. You can select Indiana and see how many exist.

  2. Meat processing giants, thanks to the meat lobby, are leading the way of the ‘cheap meat regime’ where abuse of animals is considered normal, ‘par for the course,’ ecosystems are being trashed, local, global family farmers are being made into ‘serfs’ as they ramp up production to meet global meat industry demand ie small CAFO, or AFO production coerced into mega CAFO production. Meat packers hire mostly immigrants, refugees, migrants and benefit obscenely from this cheap, endless labor force, willingly, knowingly take advantage of these workers, ‘quietly work with the State and Local Government & law enforcement to “look the other way” and then occasionally agree to raids to keep up appearances,’ further perpetuating this boom in mega CAFOs. As an activist, consumer, I boycott the handful of antisocial irresponsible agriculture industry companies attempting to hold us all hostage.

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