Indiana Indiana's legislative session was a quiet one, reports Terry Fleck, executive vice president/treasurer, Indiana Pork Producers Association (IPPA).
But there are plenty of issues waiting in the wings that could set off some loud charges.
There are at least two lawsuits pending on imposing a moratorium on confined animal feeding operations, says IPPA Vice President David Hoar, Campbellsburg, IN.
Another lawsuit has stopped a 1,200-sow co-op from completing construction and producing pigs for four small producers to finish out.
Water quality concerns are so high that builders are now being forced to add more reinforcement rods and increase the depth of concrete in floors and walls of manure storage systems. This has increased the cost of construction for hog operations from 5 to 30%, slowing building plans, Hoar says.
Despite the fact that all but 16 counties in the state have local agricultural zoning, there is still a lot of neighbor resistance to such issues as siting and setbacks, Hoar adds. He says producers are working with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to iron out those issues and insure they are decided on a sound, scientific basis.
To be sure producers are properly handling manure, IDEM has embarked on an inspection of about 200 of the largest hog operations in the state, Hoar says. So far they have inspected about 20 farms and found only one direct violation which may result in a fine, he notes.
Based on legislation, IDEM has also decreed that all permit applicants must have a manure management plan. Producers must also send IDEM an updated manure management plan every five years. And, confined feeding operations approved before July 1, 1997, must submit a manure management plan to IDEM before July 1, 2000.
A task force is reexamining IDEM's guidelines and is expected to issue more rules for manure management, says Chris Hurt, ag economist, Purdue University.
Regulations are mounting, emotions are rising and hog prices are plunging. That signals a fairly sour business climate right now in the state, adds Hurt.
Even though USDA reports Indiana's sow herd is up 4%, "it doesn't match anything we are seeing in the state," says Hurt. All of the issues have made it fairly tough to grow, except for some "known environmental stewards in their community."