Organic Consumers Association

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Targeting Factory Farms in Indiana

Neighbors who are fed up living next door to factory farms have found three high-powered trial lawyers who vow to make Randolph County "ground zero" in a courtroom food fight over how Indiana produces pork and milk.

Highly aggressive flies, harmful odors, stacks of dead animals and mismanagement of millions of gallons of manure are among the complaints of neighbors suing pork and dairy producers.

The trial lawyers are bringing multiple lawsuits challenging Indiana's industrial or factory model of producing milk and pork in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) promoted by Gov. Mitch Daniels' agriculture department.

It's a system that produces odors so intense that neighbors are suffering skin irritations, nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, tightness of the chest, sinus infection, stress, burning

eyes, noses and throats and other ailments, the lawsuits allege.

"There is a lot of discontent," said Indianapolis attorney Rich Hailey, a former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, now known as the American Association for Justice (AAJ). "We anticipate the potential filing of a dozen more cases in a short period of time."

The defendants include Vreba Hoff Dairy, an Ohio-based firm that has brought large Dutch dairy farms to Indiana, Ohio and Michigan; Maxwell Foods/Maxwell Farms, a leading, North Carolina-based pork producer that has been expanding into Indiana; Harrisburg, Pa.-based pork producer Country View Family Farms, and various local operators. Most of the cases are being filed in Randolph County, though one is being filed in federal court in Indianapolis. 

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