On Jan. 31, 2012, Indiana lawmakers passed House Bill 1091 which "provides that if a court finds that an agricultural operation that is the subject of a nuisance action was not a nuisance and that the nuisance action was frivolous, initiated maliciously, or groundless, the court shall award the expenses of litigation, including reasonable attorney's fees, to the defendant in the action."
The bill was authored by a farmer, Rep. Bill Friend (R-Macy), and is facing strong opposition from groups who want CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations) to be accountable for the waste that affects environmental safety.
Kim Ferraro, attorney and director of water and agricultural policy for the Hoosier Environmental Council believes that the bill is meant to intimidate people from filing nuisance suits. "It's a scare tactic to provide further protection the agriculture industry already has under the Right to Farm Act," she is quoted as saying in Indiana Living Green
. In a twist of Irony, Robert Kraft, director of state government relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau (IFB) concurs with Ferraro's assessment: "IFB supports the bill because ... it strengthens a law that is already on the books."
HB 1091 makes it mandatory for the plaintiff to pay for the factory farm's legal fees and makes CAFOs immune from any liability unless plaintiffs are able to prove negligence. It also protects farms against new neighbors who complain.
The Stickdorns are just one Hoosier family of many who have had an unregulated dairy farm move into their neighborhood and place a manure pit next to their property. The stench was so bad for the Stickdorns, they were driven from their own home. Since the regullatory agencies don't protect them, families like the Stickdorns have no recourse but the courts.
Besides the overpowering stench, factory farms are threats to public health and environment. These farms release massive quantities of bacteria and harmful pollutants to surrounding waters, threatening the drinking water supply and the surrounding community's quality of life.
According to the Hoosier Environmental Council, CAFOs and factory farms are not regulated in Indiana unless they are designated as a medium or large CAFO: 200-699 mature dairy cows; 750-2,499 hogs, or 37,500-124,999 chickens. Unregulated farms with hundreds and thousands of animals are allowed to store waste in open-air lagoons with little or no treatment. They often spread manure on nearby cropland which leads to manure spills, fish kills and groundwater contamination.
CAFOs ignore the fact that cows, pigs, turkeys, ducks, sheep and chickens are sentient beings who feel pain and suffering. To better understand the torture of farm animals on factory farms, watch Meet Your Meat