Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy photo Three generations of the Johnson family, operators of Shady Grove Farms in Churubusco, take a break in front of their combine from a September day harvest. From left are Kyle, Mark, Dave, Austin, Tim and Ron Johnson.

Friday, October 06, 2017 1:00 am

Combined effort

Technology - and courtesy - help farmers remain good neighbors

Mark and Alayne Johnson

Indiana lawmakers are studying the laws governing the construction and management of livestock barns. As farmers who live and work on a fourth-generation, family-owned and -operated hog farm in Whitley County, we can tell you Hoosier farmers are committed to being good neighbors and stewards of our environment. We adamantly disagree with those who claim otherwise.

As less and less of our population has a direct connection with the farming community, those who are no longer familiar with our common practices are being misled with decades-old studies and data produced by niche special interest groups developed specifically to scare them. We urge all Hoosiers to take the time to become better educated on how their neighboring farmers contribute to a better quality of life for their communities and the state.

Most farmers, including those of us at Shady Grove Farms, go above and beyond current regulations. Stringent local, state and federal rules detail where we should build or expand our barns and how we should manage our livestock and its waste. We set our bar high because we not only work in this community; we live here, raise our families, and value our relationships with our neighbors, friends and community. We work diligently to care for the waters and lands that have been in our family for generations. We are mindful that the choices we make today will affect the quality of our land for our children and grandchildren. That is our legacy.

We are proud of the innovations that have taken place in agriculture the past couple of decades. The technology available to our farm has increased our ability to care for our animals in a safe, clean and healthy atmosphere while reducing the effects on the environment. The management of waste has never been more efficient and less harmful to our neighboring waterways. Farms today look very different than they did generations ago. Technology allows us to test both the manure and soil in order to apply only the amount necessary for best soil health. Additionally, the practice on our hog farm is to inject the nutrients into the soil, further ensuring there will be no runoff and a reduction of odor.

These advancements in agriculture allow us to provide the world's safest and least expensive supply of a healthy protein. We are committed to providing consumers an option for a safe and affordable source of food. We support all sectors of agriculture, no matter their scale, because that allows all consumers the ability to choose what they can afford and what is best for their family.

Despite what the public may hear or read, local government officials, who work together with non-farmers and farmers alike, have final control over determining the best locations for barns in their counties.

Regulations that are motivated by non-scientific data that do not improve the quality of life for our livestock, nor the safety of the food for the consumer, only serve to harm our ability to continue to produce the high-quality pork for which the U.S. is known. We strongly support our elected local government officials as they continue developing policy that benefits all those in our community. One-size legislation does not fit all.

We urge everyone in our community to take the time to talk to local farmers about the rules and regulations we already follow and how agriculture can best work in harmony with the county's goals. As with any hot topic, logical thinking, a knowledgeable understanding of the issue, and a respect for all lifestyles and economic situations need to prevail for the betterment of our community.

Mark and Alayne Johnson of Columbia City operate Shady Grove Farms along with other family members.