A measure passed in Indiana earlier this year is taking hold in farming states across the U.S.
Indiana Senate Bill 126 promises to protect and encourage agricultural business growth, and a similar “right-to-farm” policy is already in place in North Dakota and is being proposed in Missouri.
Amy Cornell, a policy advisor for the Indiana Farm Bureau who lobbied for Indiana’s bill, says it provides guidance on how to interpret current laws that protect farmers.
“It really should be a farmer’s right to choose among all of the available agricultural practices which one’s work best for their farms,” Cornell says. “A farmer should be the person deciding how to farm, not somebody away from the operation.”
The bill protects the rights of farmers to use “generally accepted” practices. However, since this bill has not yet been tested in court, Cornell says she’s unsure how the policy would be applied.
Indiana Director of the Humane Society of the United States Erin Huang argues these sort of policies actually hurt traditional and family farmers.
“I think it’s a growing push by the industry to be able to promote their way of doing agriculture,” Huang says, “And as we’ve seen over the many, many years, obviously traditional family farmers have increasingly been pushed off the land so there are less farmers actually on the land but larger farms.”
But, Cornell says that small Indiana farmers can use this policy to defend their own practices.