The nation's 11th largest pork producer has claimed victory after seven years of litigation over an influx of industrial swine farms in east central Indiana.
Special Judge Marianne Vorhees ruled in favor of Maxwell Foods/Maxwell Farms without a trial in the last of five Randolph County lawsuits, which claimed the farms became a nuisance to neighbors and operated inhumanely and negligently, The Muncie Star Press reported. Vorhees entered a summary judgment in Maxwell's favor, citing Indiana's Right to Farm Act, as she did with the four other lawsuits.
Neighbors who filed the lawsuits accused Maxwell and other defendant of allowing hog waste to accumulate and "noxious fumes and odors to discharge from and be sensed beyond the boundaries of their property."
Indiana has one of the most protective Right to Farm Act statutes in the country, according to attorneys representing Maxwell. The state's right-to-farm law protects the rights of farmers to use "generally accepted" practices, including "the use of ever-changing technology."
"We are relieved the courts agreed that the allegations against Maxwell and our production partners are unsubstantiated," said Joe Baldwin, Maxwell operations manager in east-central Indiana.
Maxwell markets about 750,000 pigs a year out of east-central Indiana through its 45 "production partners," or family farmers. The represents nearly 10 percent of the total number of hogs marketed annually in the entire state, said Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University.
Between 2007 and 2012, the inventory of hogs and pigs in Randolph County more than tripled, from 55,443 to 177,605, according to the Census of Agriculture.