CAFO Bill Passes House Committee, But More Clarifications Expected

Feb 15, 2017

An Indiana House committee approved a bill Wednesday that tweaks the permitting process for big livestock farms – despite some public confusion and concerns about the impact of the changes.

The bill, from Rep. David Wolkins (R-Wabash), streamlines the permitting process for confined feeding operations (CFOs) and their larger counterparts, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

It specifies when a CFO or CAFO expansion requires a new permit, versus just a permit amendment. And it narrows who’s legally responsible for these facilities to just their local operators – not, for example, financial backers or a company that buys their animals.

Wolkins says an earlier version of the bill contained confusing language, which prompted dozens of people to testify against it and contact his office.

“The calls and emails wanted to know why I was removing the requirement for a CAFO permit, and why the public was being cut out of the process, which they are not,” he says.

His bill passed the House Environmental Affairs Committee 7-3 on Wednesday, with three legislators recusing themselves.

Those who voted no were concerned the bill was still unclear – and Wolkins agreed, saying he’d seek to amend it further once it went before the full House.