Industrial Farming and Its Impact on Our Waterways
Court Orders Evaluation of Murphy-Brown Hog Operations Identified as Threats to Groundwater
From Kelly Hunter Foster, senior attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We are pleased that the court put an end to Murphy-Brown’s four-year fight to block sampling and cleanup of groundwater pollution at these company-owned swine facilities in North Carolina.”
Yes, we are pleased because groundwater contamination from leaking animal waste cesspools impact our Lumber River watershed, its water quality and its people.
On November 22nd, we submitted comments on proposed changes to NC rules that protect water quality.
The 2T rules apply to swine waste and manure spreading. As Will Hendrick, manager of Waterkeeper Alliance’s Pure Farms/Pure Waters campaign, has stated “Waterkeepers are keenly interested in an inadequately regulated industry.” We are concerned because our rural communities and our local waterways are being harmed by improper management of animal waste from industrial meat production facilities ("factory farms").
North Carolina Pure Farms, Pure Waters campaign is a feature story in YSI’s Mission: Water magazine. This piece, penned by Waterkeeper Alliance's Communications & Marketing Coordinator Lindsey Muzzio, provides an overview of industrial animal production in North Carolina and how Waterkeepers are working to solve the problem. Read the piece here.
North Carolina is in a statewide crisis of industrial animal waste mismanagement. Our Pure Farms, Pure Waters Campaign addresses the failure to regulate pollution from industrialized swine, poultry and dairy facilities that is devastating rivers, lakes and estuaries and lowering quality of life in our communities.
Industrialization and concentration has changed the face of animal agriculture in North Carolina. The amount of production has increased while the number of farms has decreased: ~2.6 M hog houses in 15,000 hog farms in the mid-1980s; by 1997 the hog population had ballooned to 8 M and those animals were housed in fewer than 2,400 farms.
A new report from EPA's Office of Inspector General found that, 11 years after an agreement was made, EPA has not developed reliable methods of estimating emissions from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). For the sake of the communities impacted, we believe that it is irresponsible and dangerous for EPA to not take action on this issue and that it should require industry to meet their responsibility to report and address their air pollution.
Learn more at www.waterkeeper.org.
Bad law passed in North Carolina
In North Carolina, House Bill 467 is bad news for the rural communities impacted by industrial meat production facilities. Governor Cooper recognized that and vetoed the bill; however, the veto was overturned and this bad bill became law! Sadly, this law protects polluters rather than people who continue to suffer. It's an attack on private property rights and it exacerbates the disparate racial and economic impacts of industrial farming. Despite this setback, we continue to advocate for clean water and healthy communities!
We are celebrating a big victory in North Carolina!
The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) External Civil Rights Compliance Office expressed “deep concern” that the State’s failure to adequately regulate more than 2,200 industrial hog operations has a disparate, discriminatory impact on African American, Latino, and Native American communities in eastern North Carolina. The letter was sent to NC Department of Environmental Quality in connection with EPA’s ongoing investigation into our federal civil rights complaint filed in September 2014. Read more on the Waterkeeper Alliance website.
Video Series: The True Cost of Industrial Meat Production
The True Cost of Industrial Meat Production campaign aims to raise awareness of environmental injustices being perpetrated against North Carolina’s most vulnerable populations and features powerful, first-hand accounts of community members, esteemed scientific experts, and local people on the ground. This campaign shows the devastating impacts to public health, quality of life, and local waterways caused by industrial animal agriculture.
Access the videos by clicking the image below:
Industrial meat production facilities, confining thousands of animals in industrial-like conditions, routinely violate the Clean Water Act, damaging the health of communities and waterways while destroying the independence of generational farmers.
These operations, which tend to be geographically concentrated around the industry processing facilities and feed mills, can produce as much waste as a small city, but without the most basic waste treatment system to process it. As a result, the facilities frequently dispose of untreated animal sewage on adjacent lands in excess of the amounts needed for crop production and discharge that waste into local waterways in violation of the Clean Water Act, contaminating water resources and damaging the health of downstream communities.
Swine CAFO in North Carolina (Credit: Larry Baldwin)
In North Carolina, we are working with Waterkeeper Alliance and other NC Riverkeepers to implement an unprecedented strategic, state-wide campaign to regulate pollution from multinational and national corporate-controlled swine, poultry and dairy facilities, which are devastating rivers, lakes and estuaries across North Carolina. Our method includes:
- Targeted investigations
- Grassroots advocacy
- Enforcement actions against North Carolina CAFOs
- Administrative challenges to state and federal regulatory schemes
- Strategic partnerships; and
- Coordinated advocacy efforts with other state and national organizations
Our goal is to stop and cleanup water pollution caused by the concentration and waste management practices of swine and poultry operations by forcing government agencies to properly regulate and enforce their procedures. We support food production systems that do not harm water quality, communities and farmers, and hold agribusiness corporations responsible for waste management solutions.