NEWS– Earlier this month, we shared warnings from Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC), about Senate Joint Resolution 12 (SJR-12), which is oddly called Indiana’s “Right to Farm” act. Many small farmers attended the committee hearing to testify they didn’t need constitutional permission to farm their land. They already have those rights and have farmed their land for hundreds of years without any problems. So, why are republican lawmakers wanting to push this divisive bill on Hoosiers?
In a word, money.
It seems the one group which came to support enshrining Big Ag in our constitution was an innocent sounding nonprofit called Protect the Harvest. Apparently, this one small group was very persuasive since the resolution passed the committee by a vote of 6-2. One small nonprofit against small farmers who’ve been farming in Indiana for generations.
As a result of the favorable vote, HEC shared these words with us:
SJR 12 is extreme and unnecessary because enshrining such a right in Indiana’s constitution would make any future efforts to enact safeguards from industrial agricultural pollution vulnerable to a constitutional challenge. We are disappointed to see the Senate Agriculture Committee approve this measure 6-2 today, but will continue our dedicated efforts alongside consumer, public health, animal welfare, environmental and, above all, concerned farmers to stop this measure by the end of the long legislative session.”
As a quick refresher, we’ve written plenty about the origins of “Right to Farm”. It comes from the same place “Right to Work” came from…the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC for short. Straight from Wikipedia:
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives that drafts and shares model state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the United States.
Corporations pay a membership fee to be part of ALEC allowing them preferential treatment with conservative lawmakers who want to exchange cash for a legal sized typed out bill. All you have to do is put your state’s name across the top and add your signature. Yes, ALEC pimps out lawmakers for cash. If you’re a politician and eager to make a buck, you go to the Koch brothers. They’ll arrange for you to meet a CEO in the state where you’re running for office. After a day of wine and fine food, and taking advantage of luxurious hotel amenities on the taxpayer’s dime, the exchange will finally take place.
In the case of the twice failed Right to Farm Act (SJR-12), apparently Senator Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) was for sale and Forrest Lucas of Lucas Oil Stadium came a calling. As we’ve discovered, Mr. Lucas has an axe to grind with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and he’s willing to pay out big bucks to push his agenda. He set up a nonprofit front group called Protect the Harvest and a political action committee under the same name to go on the attack.
On Lucas Oil’s website, Forrest made the following statement about his relatively new nonprofit endeavor:
Protect The Harvest exist to defend our way of life, preserve our food freedom, and stand up for America’s farmers, hunters and animal owners.” Forrest Lucas says. As he stood from the podium to encourage these farm activists to fight back and defend our America families, farmers, hunters and animal owners from the growing threat posed by the radical animal rights movements and the negative effects from organization like the HSUS (Humane Society of the Untied States). [sic]
According to his Lucas Cattle website, Forrest invited over 400 Indiana farm leaders to his mansion in Carmel for a pep talk on Protect the Harvest. An observer writes:
Everyone in the room was impressed with his vision, his focus, and his commitment to supporting agriculture. The room erupted into applause when he said, “I want my legacy to be that I was the guy who beat HSUS.” While Mr. Lucas is very rich and very powerful, he cannot and should not go it alone. Farmers and others who support agriculture and our rural way of life need to support this organization.
It appears that Forrest Lucas took a disliking to the Human Society of the United States (HSUS), and started this organization to smear their reputation. We’ve reached out to our contacts within HSUS to find out what started this feud. From our research, it started in Iowa, but we’ll write a background story on what caused this when we learn more.
We find it amazing that Forrest Lucas would consider CAFO’s a “rural way of life”. There is nothing charming about these confined animal feed lots. We wonder if Senator Leising has actually visited a CAFO and talked with the illegal immigrants who work on Big Ag corporate farms. We also know there is nothing charming about spraying toxic manure over farm fields which drain off into local ditches. The EPA has warned Indiana to clean up its mess, but our Governor retaliated with lawsuits. Talk about being entrenched in the Farm Bureau. Now we know how Forrest got his name on Indy’s football stadium.
Michael Becket with Public Integrity asked Joe Maxwell, vice president of community outreach with HSUS, what he thought about Protect the Harvest claims. He said:
That’s baloney. Humane Society of the United States is leading efforts to ensure that we have good stewards of the land and the animals on our farms.
Protect the Harvest is nothing but a front group that is in bed with industrialized agriculture.
It sounds like “Protect the Harvest” is another “Heartland Institute” or “Indiana Policy Review” or Mind Trust” – front groups for Billionaires who want to push an agenda.