Loading...
No BYH to Trump voters, you elected a bulldozer to our norms, institutions and very stability. and whatever happens...

GOP must take a stand to eliminate the hog farm stink

Hog Smells Lawsuits-6

FILE- In this July 21, 2017, file photo, young hogs owned by Smithfield Foods are seen at a farm in Farmville, N.C. Jury selection began Tuesday, May 29, 2018, in a Raleigh federal courthouse for the second trial over claims the method in which Hong Kong-owned, Virginia-based Smithfield Foods raises hogs caused a number of problems for neighbors after the operations moved in. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Loading…

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The party whose leader promised to drain the swamp is now in the business of protecting cesspools.

The N.C. Senate’s Agriculture Committee has approved a bill that would protect the cheap way of handling hog waste: pooling it up in storage lagoons and then spraying it on fields, where it can waft on gentle breezes into neighboring properties.

The legislation would block lawsuits by decreeing that farm and forestry operations using practices common to their industry can’t be a legal nuisance.

So hog-waste — we can think of a less-polite term for that — repeatedly sprayed onto the side of a house wouldn’t be considered a nuisance. Neither would strong odors that constantly hang over the houses of parents with small children, or waste that rolls into streams and rivers.

Ironically, the bill wouldn’t protect hog-farm operators who might seek ways of handling waste that don’t smell as bad or is better contained.

By shielding the same old practices, the bill sends a message: “If you try to innovate, if you try something new and maybe it fails, you’re not protected in the same way that it would have been if you just decided to stay with the sorry methods you’ve been using,” said Michelle Nowlin, an environmental attorney at Duke University.

Smithfield, whose giant hog-slaughtering plant in Bladen County buys from hog farms throughout the region and whose contracts dictate how farmers raise the livestock, hasn’t changed how it deals with hog waste since the 1980s and 1990s. Thousands of hogs are housed together on these farms. Their waste is sent into pits, where bacteria break it down. It’s then sprayed onto agricultural fields. The mist of you-know-what often drifts beyond the farmers’ property boundaries.

In April, a jury awarded a $51 million verdict to neighbors of a hog farm with 4,700 pigs. The verdict was cut to $3 million because North Carolina limits punitive damages for corporate misdeeds, according to The Associated Press. In a more recent trial, a couple is suing after a neighboring grower expanded his hog operations after they bought their home near Beulaville in 1989. There could be as many as 10 lawsuits filed by the same lawyers.

Smithfield Foods CEO Ken Sullivan said the suits could prompt the company to reconsider its presence in North Carolina, the nation’s No. 2 hog-producing state. Perhaps that threat struck fear into the hearts of our lawmakers.

There’s no doubt hog-farming is an economic mainstay of Eastern North Carolina. But tobacco was once king in the region. It’s still grown here, but it’s not the only game in town any more.

Smithfield Foods hog production president Gregg Schmidt has urged swine farmers to talk to neighbors and see if they have any complaints.

“If they do, make every effort to fix the problem. The best way to avoid being sued is to be proactive and be a good neighbor,” Schmidt said in the letter Smithfield gave The Associated Press on May 30.

We’d like to see that happen.

Michael Kaeske, a Texas-based lawyer, says that in Missouri, Smithfield has implemented costlier technology that limits odors. It hasn’t done so in North Carolina because the state hasn’t forced it to.

Now our GOP-dominated legislature is considering a bill that would protect the smellier methods and discourage farmers from adopting cleaner technology.

This is the same crowd who restructured a highly successful film incentives program into a grant system that can’t give all its money away.

We wonder how voters who support these politicians would feel if they lived beside a hog farm.

It’s time for our lawmakers to start standing up for the little guy instead of reflexively protecting big business.

It’s time to drain the cesspool.

The Wilmington StarNews

Loading…

Humans of Greenville

@HumansofGville

Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.

Editorials

January 18, 2019

For lawmakers looking for a way to end the longest government shutdown in history, we have a suggestion. Google the 13th Amendment and read what it says. It’s just one sentence.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have…

eleanorclift.jpg

January 18, 2019

What is among the most nagging, gear-grinding frustrations generated by the Great Government Shutdown is that the folks in Washington will do nothing about it except whine.

The shutdown will enter its 28th day today. Apparently, the impasse is over funding to build for a wall between Mexico and the…

Government Shutdown-3

January 17, 2019

UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt has displayed patience and grace in navigating the various pressures from the UNC System Board of Governors and the leadership of the General Assembly. It has been particularly evident in addressing the controversy over the fate of the “Silent Sam”…

Confederate Monuments North Carolina

January 16, 2019

Two weeks into this new session of Congress and we’re no closer to knowing who will represent North Carolina’s 9th District in the House of Representatives. Nor do we know who will make the final call on how the seat will be filled or who will fill it. Will it be the state’s board…

Election 2018 9th Congressional District-2

January 14, 2019

Since 1990, lions, tigers and other big cats have killed 24 people ... in the United States.

The latest fatality occurred one week ago near Burlington, when a captive lion attacked and killed an intern at a wildlife center.

Alexandra Black, 22, who had been on the job for only two weeks, was…

Lion Attack-1

January 13, 2019

How fitting is it that President Trump’s first Oval Office address was aimed at stirring up the American public about a crisis largely of his own making?

Pursuing poorly thought-out and even more poorly executed policies on the pretext of battling a nonexistent national security crisis, Trump…

Government Shutdown Trump

January 12, 2019

A federal court ruling in Iowa could signal the unraveling of North Caroina’s harsh, punitive and shortsighted anti-whistleblower law.

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa on Wednesday struck down that state’s ag-gag law because if violated the First Amendment. The…

January 11, 2019

When North Carolina’s Republican legislative leaders have seen their work struck down in court as unconstitutional — as they have many times — they have frequently responded by attacking the judge or judges as partisan hacks.

That approach won’t work if the conservative-…

Supreme Court Kavanaugh

January 10, 2019

Very promising news about antibiotic use in farm animals has come from the Food and Drug Administration. The problem of resistance — the tendency of bacteria to fight back against antibiotic drugs — has been growing for decades, fueled by overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human…

beef

January 09, 2019

The new session of the General Assembly that convened at noon Wednesday may hold some interesting political twists and turns. Things have changed a bit, in an important way.

As it’s been throughout this decade, Republicans are in charge. But unlike the past few sessions, they no longer hold a…

state seal
85 stories in Editorials. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 9
        Next Page»   Last Page»