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Right-to-Farm Resolution Defeated in Indiana

PHOTO: The Indiana Senate on Tuesday failed to advance a resolution that would have embedded a  so-called right to farm in the state Constitution. Opponents argued SJR 12 would have given agribusiness protection from regulations. Photo credit: jackske/Morguefile.
PHOTO: The Indiana Senate on Tuesday failed to advance a resolution that would have embedded a so-called right to farm in the state Constitution. Opponents argued SJR 12 would have given agribusiness protection from regulations. Photo credit: jackske/Morguefile.
February 25, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS - It was presented as a right to farm, but opponents of Senate Joint Resolution 12 in Indiana say it would have created a constitutional right to pollute.

Supporters of the measure, which was voted down 28-22 by the state Senate on Tuesday, said it would stop future laws that unnecessarily burden farming. But Erin Huang, Indiana state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said it would have elevated the rights of corporations over individuals.

"It would take away the rights of Hoosiers through our elected officials to pass common-sense laws to protect the integrity of our food supply and to be able to make common-sense laws to protect the environment and animal welfare," she said.

Huang said it also would have made it tougher for courts to interpret the laws because they would need to go through a different standard of review. The legislation stated that Indiana could not pass a law that unreasonably abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ, or refuse to employ, effective agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices.

The amendment failed twice in the past, and Hoosier Environmental Council staff attorney Kim Ferraro said she hopes this third time is the last time it's attempted.

"Agribusiness has very enhanced rights already under existing law," she said. "So not only was this constitutional proposal unnecessary and dangerous, but it was just completely out of left field and hopefully something that isn't tried again."

Last year, Indiana passed a statute regarding farming rights. Senate Enrolled Act 186 calls for the state to conserve, protect and encourage the development and improvement of agriculture, agricultural businesses and agricultural land for production.

The text of SJR 12 is online at iga.in.gov.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IN