Report urges hog farmers to use new waste treatment methods

Nov. 23, 2000
A report released today by Environmental Defense shows that pork producers can afford to replace outdated lagoons with new systems for managing harmful hog waste.

RALEIGH, NC, Nov. 16, 2000—A report released today by Environmental Defense shows that pork producers can afford to replace outdated lagoons with new systems for managing harmful hog waste.

"Dollars and Sense: An Economic Analysis of Alternative Hog Waste Management Technologies" concludes that new technologies will increase pork production costs by only pennies per pound and will better protect the environment and public health. The report calls on the NC General Assembly and the state Environmental Management Commission to mandate the phase out of open-air lagoon systems on hog farms and calls for corporate hog producers that own the hogs to be held responsible for environmental problems.

"Taxpayers are spending millions of dollars to protect our water and air from hog farm pollution, and neighbors living downwind and downstream of these operations are paying the additional cost of lower property values and a diminished quality of life," said Environmental Defense economist Kathy Cochran, chief author of the report. "Major pork companies own millions of hogs that are raised by contract farmers, but the companies do not help pay for the cost to manage their hogs' waste."

"Our research shows that converting to new waste technologies is affordable, and major pork companies, which are making record profits off hogs in North Carolina, can readily afford to install new systems on contract growers' farms and still maintain a competitive edge over producers in other states," said Cochran.

The report concludes that technologies which are environmentally superior to the lagoon and sprayfield system are ready for commercial-scale testing today and are affordable. The economic analysis is available on Hog Watch.

"It's time for the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation mandating stronger environmental standards for hog operations and to require farms with more than 250 hogs to convert to new technologies that meet these standards by 2005. North Carolina has the opportunity to serve as a model for the nation on the sound management of animal waste," said Jane Preyer, director of North Carolina Environmental Defense. "Without legislative mandates, industrial hog farms will continue using primitive waste systems at the expense of the state's environment and public health."

Environmental Defense represents more than 300,000 members, including 8,000 in North Carolina. Since 1967 we have linked science, economics, and law to create innovative, equitable, and cost-effective solutions to the most urgent environmental problems.

For more information, visit http://www.environmentaldefense.org/.