Still no frontal assault on swine-waste management issues

NORTH CAROLINA - Here is the situation as the legislature raises the curtain on a new season of North Carolina’s long-running Hogfield Follies.
calendar icon 3 April 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

This year the spotlight homes in on a bill introduced by Rep. Carolyn Justice of New Hanover and Pender counties and cosponsored by Rep. Marvin Lucas of Cumberland County, and others. It would share costs with 100 swine producers who want to try new waste-management technologies that thousands of others have rejected. That’s worth doing, although it involves only those who mean to stay in the business, ignoring independents who went bust when the pork price collapsed and now can’t afford to decommission their idle cesspools.

It serves, however, as a reminder of what is not being addressed.

On a given day, the state houses 10 million head of swine. That’s more pigs than people. Each pig generates several times as much waste as each person. Hog waste is more toxic, and undergoes different treatment; but all excrement is potentially hazardous.

A moratorium on new and expanded industrial-scale swine operations will expire this fall unless it is renewed or made permanent, and there are bills in place that would do one or the other. Another extension offers lawmakers their easiest out. It also ensures the least far-reaching results. The moratorium, it seems, has been less than perfectly enforced in the past. It’s still possible to get a bill before the legislature that requires the employment of enough regulators to hold the industry to the spirit and letter of the law. What you should not hold is your breath.


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