A bill giving the state more power to regulate where confined animal feeding operations can be located will not be moving forward in that form during this year’s legislative session.
On Monday, the Senate Agricultural Committee stripped the original provisions of Senate Bill 249, a measure that sought to limit local governmental control over large livestock farms.
The committee then replaced the language of the original bill — authored by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg — with language calling for Purdue University to conduct a study looking at how existing local ordinances impact confined animal feeding operations. That committee is to report its findings to lawmakers by November.
The bill’s original version would have stopped counties and other local governments from adopting any rules more stringent than current state laws on building livestock structures in areas zoned for agricultural use.
The original measure was written with the idea of standardized rules across the state, doing away with individual regulations for the 92 counties.
Kyle Broshears, a Seymour resident and a 2003 Purdue University graduate, said relying on Purdue to review the issue is a good way to proceed. He and his wife, Leah, received approval from the county in October to build a confined animal feeding operation for hogs northwest of county roads 1050E and 200S between Dudleytown and Uniontown.
“I think a lot of people around here have a hard time understanding why this bill was put forth because they don’t see the restrictions and the number of moratoriums across the entire state — only what’s in Jackson and Bartholomew County,” Kyle Broshears said. “By doing the study, they’ll have more facts and future legislation and more backbone to it in order to tell the whole story.”
Commissioner Matt Reedy said he completely disagrees with the original provisions of the proposed bill, taking away local oversight and decisions.
“We live here, and we live with the local rule,” Reedy said.
However, he said he’s interested to see how Purdue will handle the issue, considering the university’s agriculture background.
“Purdue is known for farming and will do a great job from this aspect,” he said.
Reedy said the state should reach out not only to the university for insight but to county commissioners around the state who handle this issue regularly and find out their opinions.
“I think especially in the counties where CAFOs are at and get their input,” he said.
Broshears said the original version would have been difficult to pass without further facts to back it up. He said he’s confident in the outcome after the university takes it over.
“When the study ends and is completed, it’s possible the originally proposed bill will be revamped or reconsidered,” he said.
Last year, the county approved two requests from local families to build a CAFO in the county — the Broshears project and another from James Lucas and his son, Matthew, of Freetown.
On Nov. 18, the county commissioners voted 2-1 to enact an ordinance regulating odors, size and setbacks of CAFOs. The rules will not affect the plans for the Lucas or Broshears operations because they were already in the works.
Currently, the county is under a moratorium for building CAFOs until March 15 when the ordinance will be reviewed by commissioners.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.