Factory Farms Continue Receiving Special Treatment from Hoosier Lawmakers
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Senate Joint Resolution 9 (SJR-9), the Right to Hunt and Fish resolution, was filed yesterday in the General Assembly, with an unexpected and very significant revision. While this year’s measure uses the same title phrase (“Right to Hunt and Fish”), has the same author (Senator Brent Steele), and has the same committee assignment (Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources), as last year’s version, the concerning language creating a constitutional right to “engage in the commercial production of meat, poultry and dairy products,” has been removed. That language would have provided constitutional cover and significantly enhanced legal protection for the controversial factory farming practices of the meat industry – protection not afforded to any other Hoosier industry.
“The Hoosier Environmental Council is encouraged by this positive development,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “However, at this very early stage of the legislative session, and driven by the fact that a vast array of environmentally damaging ag-related bills were presented during the last session — including the re-introduced “Ag Gag” bill — we must remain vigilant in tracking all legislation in the event the removed language reappears.”
This includes close tracking of newly filed Senate Bill 186 which provides heightened legal protection for factory farms as did last year’s proposed constitutional amendment, SJR-7.
“Although HEC hasn’t fully analyzed the likely impacts of enshrining hunting and fishing rights into Indiana’s constitution — rights that current SJR-9 would create, we can say, generally, that any constitutionally protected activity is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for state and local policymakers to subsequently control,” said Kim Ferraro, staff attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council.
SJR-9 and SB 186 have both been assigned to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. A hearing date has not been set for the former, but SB 186 will be heard on Monday, January 13th at 10 am in Room 431. SB 101, the Ag Gag bill, is set for a vote in the Senate Corrections and Criminal Code Committee on Tuesday, January 14th at 10:00 a.m., Room 130.