Factory farms are nasty places.
Animals are unnaturally confined to cramped spaces, stuffed with food and processed for your dinner table.
If you wandered into a factory farm unannounced, you would likely walk out disgusted and might decide never to eat meat again.
You would recoil at the repugnant odor and the thousands of tons of animal waste produced.
As consumers increasingly turn toward organic and humanely raised meat, the factory farm's days could be numbered. That's the hope of many Hoosiers, environmentalists among them.
But those who want to keep factory farms at arm's length have run into a stubborn obstacle in the Indiana Legislature.
The House Committee on Environmental Affairs this week shot down by a 9-3 vote a bill that would have tightened regulations, empowered the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to further regulate, and prohibited permits for factory farms within a mile of a private or public property (unless the property owner consents).
House Bill 1378's opponents argued that the limitation would have hamstrung the state's agriculture industry by narrowing the field of possible locations for factory farms.
Currently, Indiana law allows factory farms within 100 feet of public and private properties, meaning one could be plunked down right next to your house or your child's elementary school.
Especially when you consider the following information provided in support of the bill by the Hoosier Environmental Council:
• More than three-quarters of stream miles in Indiana have tested positive for toxic E. coli bacteria, mostly traceable to factory farm waste.
• Air pollutants emitted by factory farms can cause complications for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
• A cow in a factory farm can produce about 82 pounds of manure a day, about 80 times more than the average person, meaning a factory farm with 4,000 cattle could produce as much fecal waste as a city of 300,000 people.
One of the bill's opponents on the House committee, Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Lowell, defended his vote by citing “unsubstantiated science.”
If Aylesworth lived within 100 feet of a factory farm, the science might begin to make a lot more sense to him.