Letter: CAFO panel decisions not based on reason

From: Rick Hand


I’m a little concerned that the staff of The Republic wasted the majority of the CAFO article in an August edition describing behaviors of individuals attending a CAFO study meeting. I found the real story was buried toward the end of the article. Larry Kleinhenz, a county commissioner, was quoted, “Those who refuse to compromise may discover they have done more harm than good for the cause” (referring to some members of the study committee). Kleinhenz continued, “If the committee gave us a unanimous compromise, the commissioners would be more prone to support it, but if we’re forced to make the rules because there’s no compromise, it’s (the ordinance) probably going to be less restrictive.”

How can he justify his intent to make the ordinance less restrictive just because the CAFO committee members cannot come to a unanimous compromise? This type of reasoning is not even rational.

Kleinhenz continued with scare tactics by presenting the following scenario: “If the ordinances are too restrictive, a livestock producer could put up several livestock barns on different parcels that collectively hold thousands of animals, and nobody would be able to do anything about it.” If Kleinhenz, by his own admission, suspects this particular scenario could become reality, I would expect as an elected official he would be proactive and prohibit such a disaster.

Another commissioner, Rick Flohr, confirms he is supporting less-restrictive setbacks for CAFOs. He is quoted in The Republic: “I really don’t want to see any more CAFOs in the county, but I also don’t want to make it impossible for somebody to have them.”

Mr. Flohr, it is not impossible to have CAFOs in Bartholomew County; they are here. He also claimed he believes a quarter-mile setback for CAFOs from a school is acceptable, however he wants a half-mile setback for a church. Students attend school five days a week, seven hours daily, for 10 months. People attend church a few hours weekly.

The process of deciding CAFO setbacks involved six chairs labeled 100 feet, 500 feet, 1,000 feet, quarter-mile, half-mile and one mile. Kris Medic would ask the committee members how far should a setback be for (fill in the blank). The committee member would select a chair with his preferred distance and do a head count. There was no apparent logic supporting the choice, and they were not required to provide an explanation. The members seemed to randomly choose a number or perhaps just followed one another, like cattle. It was indicated that these were going to only be recommendations; however, I am appalled that this is how the study committee chose to alter the lives in Bartholomew County.

It’s important to know the majority of these members making these life-altering decisions for Bartholomew County are ag-affiliated and have been appointed by our commissioners. We also need to remember tourism brings more dollars into Bartholomew County than agriculture. Please contact your county commissioners and remember their names in the next election. County Commissioners Office: 812-379-1515