N.C. Environmental Defense Calls Hog Farm Bill Hollow

April 26, 2001

North Carolina Environmental Defense said that non-controversial legislation approved today by the N.C. House of Representatives to extend a moratorium on new factory hog farms does little to solve the swine waste crisis or protect public health and the environment.

“Extending the moratorium until existing problems are fixed is critical,” said Dan Whittle, senior attorney with North Carolina Environmental Defense. “But a simple moratorium extension does nothing to stop the air and water pollution caused by factory hog farms already operating in North Carolina. Pork companies will never eliminate harmful lagoon systems and clean up the pollution they create if lawmakers merely keep extending the moratorium. To adequately address public health and environmental impacts caused by factory farms, lawmakers must pass legislation that eliminates lagoons once and for all.”

Environmental groups have called upon the General Assembly to adopt higher environmental standards for hog farms and to mandate the use of environmentally superior technologies on all hog farms in the state by 2005. Under the House bill passed today, waste standards for existing farms would not change.

Smithfield Foods and its subsidiaries, which include Murphy Family Farms and Carroll Foods, agreed last year to replace lagoons with environmentally superior alternatives on its more than 250 company-owned farms by 2005. Environmental Defense is calling upon the legislature to adopt legislation that requires all the state’s hog farms to replace lagoons.

House Bill 1312 extended the moratorium on the construction or expansion of large hog farms for two more years, until July 2003. Hog waste is typically stored in open-air lagoons the size of football fields and then sprayed on farm fields. The legislature first enacted the moratorium in 1997 to allow time for the development of more protective alternative waste technologies for North Carolina’s more than 2,500 hog farms.