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Web letter by Charlotte A. Weybright: Factory farms undeserving of constitutional protection

The constitutional amendment on many minds is the amendment banning same-sex marriage. Another amendment, however, is also set to drastically change our lives and environment – by enshrining protection of industrial farming in the state constitution. Republicans just can’t seem to get enough of misusing the amendment process for their own agenda.

Republicans are anticipating that the attention on the marriage amendment will allow SJR 7 – the Right to Hunt and Fish – to sail by the voters in November 2014 with little notice.

SJR 7 is an innocuous-sounding Trojan horse being used as a means for those who want to see Indiana become the land of combined animal feeding operations. Its goal is to amend Article 1, Section 39 to constitutionally protect industrial farming over all other occupations and professions. The amendment is worded as follows:

Constitutional right to hunt and fish. The people have a right to hunt, fish, harvest game, or engage in the agricultural or commercial production of meat, fish, poultry, or dairy products, which is a valued part of our heritage and shall be forever preserved for the public good, subject only to laws prescribed by the General Assembly and rules prescribed by virtue of the authority of the General Assembly. Hunting and fishing shall be the preferred means of managing and controlling wildlife. This section shall not be construed to limit the application of any provision of law relating to trespass or property rights.

Hunting and fishing may be a part of our heritage, but industrial farming is not. Local control using zoning and other regulations is a much-needed check on the explosion of factory farms that have been linked to health hazards and to environmental pollution through decreased air quality and manure runoff into rivers. That control would be abolished and handed over to the state.

Industrial farming does not deserve constitutional protection, and our local officials and citizens certainly do not deserve to lose even more control over local issues to the state legislature.

CHARLOTTE A. WEYBRIGHT

Fort Wayne

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