Let farmers be farmers

Let farmers be farmers in Hancock County

To the editor,

It has been difficult for me to stay on the sidelines of the issue of a local pork producer vs. “The neighbors.” So here is my two cents, Hancock County.

I have seen these stories and headlines before. Stop the factory. It’s too big. It’s too close to home. It will harm my way of life.

These are the headlines that as a lifelong pork producer — a life that has coursed through my veins since I was born — continue to battle.

Confined feeding, as the title implies, is a place that is specific for raising livestock indoors.

My grandfather built the first of such barns on a hill behind his house in 1955.

Fast-forwarding to today, my brothers and I are the fifth generation to this Hancock County farm, raising the sixth.

Our father built his first barn and subsequent barns in 1969 and again in 1970, 1978, 1995 and 1998. Each time larger than before. Why? Our family keeps growing. How do you earn more income? You do more.

Were we concerned about our neighbors? Of course. Did we convey that concern? Maybe. Some.

However, our lives were not being affected, so why would their lives be?

They didn’t live as close as we did. They didn’t drink from the same well as the animals, like we did and continue to do. Their wells or houses were not located closer than our own, so why should we be concerned about their health?

After all, nothing was affecting our own.

But as years have passed since 1998, advent of social media has brought the stories that you can search the Internet for, including some producer that did something in some who-knows town. The bad actor who has tainted the good work of so many.

As a father, a husband (to a previous non-farm wife) and a longstanding member of our community, I am well aware of my surroundings.

So when stories of “Stop the Pig Factory” come to my county, it hurts.

It goes against what I have spent my life portraying our operation to be.

It’s a job of feeding an ever-growing population. It’s sustaining life with other life. It’s what farming has become. It’s a dirty job.

It’s a life that with the advent of technologies has allowed so few to do so much and to feed the masses at a low cost to the consumer.

Giving the masses the ability to go out and create other wealth, other ways of life and not needing to worry about where their next meal will be and not having to get into the dirt is a success story that our country has built upon for many years.

Farmers who want to expand and do more should be commended for their actions.

Yes, that should be done with concern for their surroundings, but the people need to trust that we are.

We should all be thankful that they are there to do the job of providing for the many.

I understand the issue, and I understand the concerns, but if we were to never let anything be done in our own backyard that threatens to make a change, then where will our lives be?

Change is every day. Nothing is forever. So why not embrace change? Let the farmers be farmers, and trust the love and passion we have will benefit your life and not harm it.

Communication has always been a wonderful thing, but the lack of it has been the problem that many of us in agriculture have learned from. We are busy. Remember our job is always.

But we know you need to hear our story.

Michael Lewis

Lewis Pork Farms LLC


Past president of Indiana Pork