Economically Viable Modern Hog Waste Systems Reduce Pollution

Modern hog waste management technologies identified by an N.C. State University (NCSU) report will do a better job of protecting the environment and public health from harmful intensive hog farm pollution and can spur economic development in eastern North Carolina. Environmental Defense commended the long awaited NCSU report on the environmental performance of alternative hog waste treatment technologies. Issued today, the report is the result of agreements reached in 2000 between the state Attorney General's office and Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms that provided funding for technology research and that requires the companies to use alternative waste systems once researchers identify environmentally superior alternatives. Environmental Defense urged the two companies to embrace the new technologies and begin the conversion process as soon as possible.

"The verdict is in. Modern hog waste technologies can eliminate surface and ground water pollution, and can substantially reduce odor, ammonia-caused air pollution and aerial transport of disease-causing microbes," said Environmental Defense senior scientist Joe Rudek. "Conversion to modern technologies can create value-added products from what is now an overabundance of manure. I am confident that a full and sound economic analysis will show that these systems are affordable for all hog farmers in the state."

Environmental Defense stressed the importance of including the benefits of marketable by-products, incentive payments from the federal farm bill and other sources, and second-generation technology modifications in the economic analysis.

"Lawmakers should make the moratorium on new lagoons permanent," said Environmental Defense senior attorney Dan Whittle. "As soon as possible they should establish policies and procedures that will govern the phase-out of lagoon systems on existing farms. If North Carolina acts quickly to replace lagoons on all intensive hog farms and develops the infrastructure needed for successful conversion to modern technologies, the state's public health, environment and economy will score dramatic wins, and the pork industry will gain a competitive edge in the changing marketplace."

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