Large-scale animal production in eight Indiana counties is carried out by a mostly younger, educated work force and seldom violates state environmental regulations. However, fiscal and zoning issues surrounding confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are more complicated, according to a study by four Purdue University researchers.
"Community Impacts of Confined Animal Feeding Operations" examined 50 CAFOs in Benton, Cass, Huntington, Jasper, Jay, Randolph, Wabash and Wells counties, which have the largest concentration of the animal facilities in the state. The 2007-08 study looked at demographics, labor, impacts on local government budgets, environment violations and county planning and zoning.
The four-member Purdue research team presented the full study June 18 in a statewide broadcast carried live at Purdue Extension offices and other locations in 21 Indiana counties.
"The expansion of CAFOs in Indiana has been controversial. The purpose of this research was to learn more about the issues and the impact of CAFOs on local communities," said Janet Ayres, an agricultural economist and research team leader.
Ayres said the study, funded entirely by Purdue Extension and the university's College of Agriculture, only focused on swine and dairy CAFOs. Researchers interviewed CAFO operators and county government and highway officials and pored over county tax documents and environmental records. Findings present a snapshot of the confined feeding segment of Indiana's animal agriculture industry and are not intended to represent the industry as a whole, Ayres said.