Letter: Confined-feeding push happening under our noses

From: Tom Mee


I don’t think most people know what’s happening in Bartholomew County, so I will shed a little light on it.

What do Ukraine, Indiana, Putin and pork have in common? Answer: A determination to unseat democratic government in its eastern provinces and forcefully impose the rule of a stubborn, ‘take-no-prisoners’ gaggle of conjoined interests claiming rights superior to all others.

Huh, you say? Does the saying “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” ring a bell? Well, we’re on the verge of that Orwellian construct being imposed upon the citizens of Bartholomew County — particularly those who choose to live among the fertile farmlands that surround Columbus.

While Mr. Putin sends Russian military forces into Ukraine, ripping away whole provinces from that former Soviet Republic and leaving a trail of devastation in his path, here in Indiana the Pork Producers pressure the General Assembly to level artillery at our eastern counties aiming to expand the footprint of an industrial farming practice reliant upon life-long confinement of animals not quite as equal to the animals that own them and plan to slaughter them.

Their battle plan consists of maneuvers conducted with military-like precision on several fronts: legislation to carve away county land use/zoning powers; constitutional protection to industrial farming as if it were as benign as row-crops; weaken rules governing vast quantities of manure waste produced by such “farming” practices; stubbornly ignoring odor and human health hazards visited upon neighbors; and annexing land to construct a facility subsidized and equipped with tax dollars where unfortunate beasts live entirely confined to cages. ”We have to feed the world,” “keep family farms viable” and “jobs” are their battle cries. But those are false, hollow and deceptive. “Quick and easy profits” is more like it.

To keep labor costs low, they’ll import low-wage workers from afar. To sell their product at the highest price, they’ll export the foodstuffs to China. In short, they’ll maximally capitalize upon Indiana’s abundant and cheap land, abundant and cheap labor, abundant and cheap water, abundant and cheap air, abundant and cheap energy and cheap (deeply discounted) taxes to build an Indiana-branded global food industry cluster. Why they’ve even given marching orders to researchers at Purdue: Identify counties that offer resistance to this takeover and paint big, red bull’s-eyes on their backs, so to train their artillery upon them. Film at 11.

Too bad we won’t be able to also export the smell to China and elsewhere. No, that will waft overhead. When friends and neighbors tell us of their inability to enjoy family cookouts on their porches, when rural schoolchildren gag with the shifting wind, when campers at CERAland pull up stakes to escape unbearable stench, when rural churches cancel their services and golfers scramble from fumes drifting across fairways, they’ll simply have to take consolation knowing that’s simply the smell of money being made in Bartholomew County.

Alas, that will be their only consolation because they’ve had no choice –- or voice — in the matter. But they did read all about it in The Republic, didn’t they?