Poultry Growing Unchecked in North Carolina

North Carolina's Riverkeeper/Waterkeeper organizations, along with Waterkeeper Alliance and our partners, are working to stop pollution from industrial meat production facilities, also known as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).

One of our partners, the Environmental Working Group, has compiled information from our field and aerial investigations in North Carolina. The report:, Under the Radar: New Data Reveals N.C. Regulators Ignored Decade-Long Explosion of Poultry CAFOs, is compelling. It documents the unchecked growth of poultry operations in North Carolina in recent years, highlighting the following points:

  • poultry waste is now the largest and fastest growing source of nutrients from animal waste in North Carolina;
  • a dry litter poultry operation can be constructed and operated in NC without applying for an environmental permit; and
  • the state environmental agency does not know the location of the thousands of poultry operations in this state (because the NC Dept. of Ag cites state law to refuse disclosure of that information)

We want the NC Department of Environmental Quality to help us prevent pollution from poultry CAFOs, to conduct a meaningful evaluation of the cumulative effects of pollution from poultry and swine CAFOs in our watersheds, and to protect fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for all communities.

Here's an interactive map displaying where we know new chicken CAFOs are located. Click on it to zoom in.

How can you help? Contact your local Riverkeeper/Waterkeeper with your local knowledge...where are these new and expanding poultry CAFOs, where is the waste (dry poultry litter) being stored and then land applied, are there obvious or suspected pollution issues from these CAFOs? Even though there are minimal requirements imposed on these CAFOs, there are actions we can take to prevent pollution and protect people.

Jefferson Currie II is your Lumber Riverkeeper. His e-mail is lumberrk@winyahrivers.org.

Cara Schildtknecht is your Waccamaw Riverkeeper. Her e-mail is riverkeeper@winyahrivers.org.