MUNCIE — Delaware County's lackadaisical approach to factory farms was exposed when a permit was filed to construct such a farm to raise 10,560 swine.
The county is currently home to the smallest number of confined feeding operations (CFOs) in East Central Indiana — just five.
Neighboring chicken, hog and turkey powerhouse Jay County boasts the most CFOs in the state — 110 — and Randolph County, a leading hog producer, ranks near the top in the state with 47 CFOs.
"I think they are not protecting us or doing their job," Kathy Chambers, an opponent of what would be Delaware County's sixth CFO, said of county officials.
In December, Blackford County farmer Rhett Light filed an application with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to build four wean-to-finish pig production buildings (housing 2,640 head per building) on Delaware County Road 1270-N.
Light has agreements to land apply manure and wastewater from the hog barns to fertilize more than 600 acres of crops in Blackford and Delaware counties. That acreage is mostly owned by Light family members, including Kenneth and Pauline, Norman and Deborah, Ramona, Josh and Meredith, and Gailon.
IDEM, not county governments, has jurisdiction over CFO design and construction, nutrient management, runoff of storm water from manure-applied fields and barns, setbacks, manure handling and storage, monitoring and record-keeping.
But IDEM does not regulate CFO disposal of dead animals (state board of animal health), odors, insects, traffic, road damage, neighboring property-value impacts, or affect on ground water usage.
That is why the Indiana Land Resources Council, a state entity, created model agricultural zoning ordinances for local governments to consider more than a decade ago.