Environmental Defence Praises NC Clean Swine Farming Bill

NORTH CAROLINA - Environmental Defense praised a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Justice, R-New Hanover/Pender, that will establish permanent environmental standards for managing hog waste and help farmers make the transition from traditional lagoons to cleaner waste systems.
calendar icon 28 March 2007
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The bill provides $50 million for a cost-share program, called the Early Adoption Program, to help make new systems affordable for farmers. It also includes $10 million for a well water fund that will help low-income citizens replace or repair contaminated wells, regardless of the source of contamination.

In the 1990s the lagoon and sprayfield system gained widespread acceptance for treating hog waste. However, the explosive growth of the NC pork industry proved the system to be a poor choice for the state's environment and public health. Outmoded waste systems can contaminate ground water, pollute rivers and streams, exacerbate respiratory problems, and disrupt the daily lives of citizens.

"Traditional hog lagoons are on the way out, and clean waste systems are on the way in," said Jane Preyer, director of the NC office of Environmental Defense. "There is widespread agreement that no farmer would build a traditional lagoon today. The challenge is to bring down the cost of modern systems so that farmers can replace existing lagoons. During the next few years, these cleaner systems will improve, the costs will come down, and farmers will find new markets for by-products. If North Carolina makes a real commitment to clean hog farming, new waste systems can spread from farm to farm just as easily as lagoons did back in the 1990s."

"North Carolina would never have welcomed the lagoon system to the state if the public health risks had been known," said Joe Rudek, Environmental Defense senior scientist. "Now that science has documented health threats and research has identified clean waste systems, the state should help farmers and communities plan for a cleaner future. Adopting permanent standards for hog waste systems will protect people's health, the environment and the future of the hog industry. It is possible to accomplish all three goals if the state makes them a priority. This bill lays the foundation for action."

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