An Indiana judge issued a summary judgment this week, stating that the Indiana Right to Farm Act is constitutional and ruled in favor of farms in four different lawsuits. Judge Marianne Vorhees decided in favor of farms in the cases of Armstrong and Dungan vs. Gary Foulke and Maxwell Farms of Indiana Inc.; Neudecker vs. Maxwell Farms of Indiana Inc.; Pegg vs. Maxwell Foods; and Williams vs. Maxwell Farms of Indiana Inc. These lawsuits were seeking damages from farms for creating a nuisance with regards to odor, manure management practices, and location of farms.
In each of the four cases, Judge Vorhees found that the plaintiffs failed to prove negligence in the way the farms were operated and located. “Maxwell Farms is extremely pleased to have prevailed in the recent court actions brought against the company and some of its growers claiming swine production is a nuisance in our community,” stated Joe Baldwin, operations manager of Maxwell Farms of Indiana.
Both Jerry Warren, president of Randolph County Farm Bureau, and Joe Baldwin, Maxwell Farms, have attended at least two of the hearings for the above cases. According to Baldwin, “During the last five years we have had to defend our agriculture practices which are commonly practiced throughout the Midwest in swine producing communities. We find it unfortunate that a few individuals have attempted to discredit our industry despite the fact that Maxwell Farms maintains an excellent environmental record in the state of Indiana and establishes high standards that our contract grower families are expected to meet.”
“This judgment is a positive victory consistent with other victories that have upheld Indiana farmer’s right to farm and reasonably grow their farms,” said Mark Thornburg, general counsel and director of legal affairs for Indiana Farm Bureau Inc. “Indiana Farm Bureau successfully sought changes to the Right to Farm law in 2005 to increase farmers flexibility under the Right to Farm law.”
“The significance for this ruling for Randolph County farmers and Indiana farmers the ability to run well-managed operations without fear of legal repercussions,” stated Jerry Warren, Randolph County Farm Bureau president .
All 50 states have a Right to Farm Act. This act protects farms using commonly accepted agricultural practices from being considered a nuisance in agriculturally zoned areas. This act is seen by legislatures in all 50 states as the Unites States’ ability to protect its own food, fuel and fiber production.