Photo: EllenM1 (Flickr)
In a preliminary vote this morning, the Bartholomew County commissioners agreed to implement a one-year moratorium on large animal feeding operations.
The moratorium applies to farms with more than 300 cattle, 500 horses, 600 hogs, 600 sheep, or 30,000 fowl.
The vote comes after months of debate in the county, which was initially sparked by farmers requesting zoning permissions for new hog farms in the area.
After the request was made, residents against the operations banded together, expressing their worries about how waste from the facilities would affect air and water quality, among other concerns.
In June, the Bartholomew County commissioners announced they were creating a committee to evaluate the county’s ordinance that regulates concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs.
Committee member and Hope resident Annalee Huey says she hopes the moratorium will give the committee the opportunity to thoroughly examine the current regulations before making any recommendations.
“I think it is a good idea,” she says, referring to the moratorium. “As a member of the committee, I want us to be able to take our time to look at the regulations and to be able to discuss things and not feel rushed.”
Huey says she believes the committee will be able to make recommendations that balance the needs of all the county’s residents.
But some hog farmers say regulations are already strict enough.
Ron Trotter was a hog producer in the county until five years ago. He says new state regulations were too burdensome, forcing him to give up the business. He now runs a feed store.
Trotter says if enforced, the current regulations are more than ample to keep the environment safe.
“It’s very tough to get an operation now, and I think if they make it any tougher, there just won’t be any,” he says.
The county commissioners must still vote again to finalize the moratorium.
The CAFO study committee meets for the first time next month and has meetings scheduled through next spring.