By Alec Gray
The Senate stopped the controversial right-to-farm resolution in its tracks on Tuesday – to the delight of environmental groups that had been fighting it.
The Senate voted 28-22 against the proposal, which would have amended the Indiana Constitution to guarantee that Hoosiers could “engage in diverse farming and ranching practices.”
The resolution’s author, Sen. Brent Steele, R-Bedford, said the goal was in part to protect the property rights of farmers. But opponents criticized the resolution’s clarity and language, while some senators questioned the necessity of passing it at all.
A constitutional amendment requires approval by two, separately-elected legislatures plus ratification by voters. Steele maintained said the issue should be put in front of Hoosiers to decide if they want the resolution or not.
But in a committee hearing earlier this session, some farmers testified against the proposal.
They told lawmakers they already have the right to farm. They said instead of helping smaller, family farms, the guarantees would hurt them and benefit large, corporate farming operations.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said farmers he has spoken to are neutral about this legislation because a right to farm law was passed a couple years ago.
After the vote, Kim Ferraro, senior staff attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council, celebrated the resolution’s defeat. She said it would have been an “unfair and unprecedented protection of Indiana’s industrial agriculture operators.”
“Today’s 22 yay, 28 nay vote defeating the measure should demonstrate to Hoosiers, who care about the environment, safe and clean water, animal welfare, and the rights of small family farms, that their voices make a difference,” she said.
Alec Gray is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students.