The current ordinance allows an owner of less than 10 acres a maximum of 10 fowl per acre on their property, which would equate to 90 fowl on 10 acres at the maximum.(One acre is applied to the dwelling unit, if there is one on the site.) In the same area of the county, one who wishes to build a chicken confinement operation or Confined Animal Feeding Operation, would be allowed to put as many as 8,000 chickens per acre on the minimum 40 acre parcel required for the operation.
When one looks at the large discrepancy in the number of animals allowed, it certainly begs the question as to why?
It is no secret that we are in the midst of the second most severe economic downturn in this country since the Great Depression. It should also be no secret that East Central Indiana counties have been victims of this downturn. One need only to look at the number of children in Rush County who received free or reduced school lunches in 2011 (a total of 1,241 of the 2,679 enrolled in the public schools) to see that food security is an issue in Rush County for many families. As families struggle to find adequate sources of nutrition, supplement their family income, or participate in 4-H projects, it would seem that there should be no problem with raising chickens in a predominantly agricultural area of a county like Rush County, or for that matter in any area of Rush County.
It’s absurd that the county wants to tightly regulate families with small flocks while they allow factory farms, which have a far greater impact on the quality of life in Rush County, to operate with lax local regulations.
With cities like Indianapolis allowing small numbers of chickens inside the city limits, it would seem that keeping chickens out of Rush County would be one of the last things on the minds of the Planning Commission. If the county is going to support agriculture, then support all forms of agriculture-not just a select few.