Sierran Masthead

Chapter Wins Grant to Address Confined Animal Feeding Operations

by Bill Hayden, Hoosier Chapter Conservation Chair

The Hoosier Chapter has been awarded a grant by the Sierra Club to hire an organizer to work on Combined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) issues. This organizer will allow the chapter to help communities make sure that new CAFOs will be built to the best technology available and are managed to maximize the protection of their neighbors’ health and the environment. The chapter is in the process of hiring the organizer and looks forward to getting this program in gear.

CAFOs raise at least 1,000 pigs and chickens in large confined pens inside large barns, creating horrible stench and risk of environmental contamination from animal waste. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) has prepared a new draft rule to manage CAFOs in Indiana. It has been scheduled for final hearing and adoption on March 14 (the approximate receipt date of this newsletter) at 1 p.m. in Indiana Government Center South, Indianapolis.

The rule has serious inadequacies, such as no integrator liability (responsibility of the corporate owner and not just the farmer contractor for the animals ), no bonding and no closure period, and no limit on the number of CAFOs in an area. Carroll County leads the state with 128 CAFOs.

Under present guidelines, CAFOs are required to get individual one-time “approvals.” No renewals are required. Under the new rule, CAFOs would get approvals that are renewable every five years with the submission of a manure management plan and basic updated information about the operation. Renewing CAFOs that have water-quality violations will require more public notice requirements. While the rule is a step forward in regulating these facilities, we need to protest that this rule is too weak to properly protect people and the environment. On March 15, the next day, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is holding a hearing on its draft CAFO rules. This rule is better in some ways than the IDEM rule, but it also has many inadequacies. EPA’s current regulations are riddled with loopholes, allowing some 70 percent of large factory farms to escape regulation. The proposal includes a few improvements, such as holding the corporations that own the animals responsible for waste disposal.

The EPA hearing will be at the Fort Wayne Hilton Convention Center, 120 S. Calhoun St., from 1 to 5 p.m.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[8/11/02]efp

Spring 2001