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Hog-waste Question Piles Up In Raleigh

by 5m Editor
2 April 2007, at 9:44am

RALEIGH, N.C. - Hog farms and their potential to harm the environment are once again before the General Assembly, but backers say they have more support for funding new waste systems than they had last year.

A state study released a year ago presented alternatives to the hog-waste lagoons that critics say are prone to overflowing and contaminating lakes and rivers and the sprayfields that produce foul odors and release harmful pathogens.

But the new technology was expensive, and neither the governor, state Senate or House included hog-waste funding in any of their budgets.

This year, bills in both the House and Senate seek $50 million in one-time funding that would pay 90 percent of the cost for about 100 hog farmers who want to try the new technology. The hope is that once the new systems are in use, the farmers who volunteer to use them will find ways to run them more cheaply and broaden their appeal.

State Rep. Carolyn Justice, a Pender County Republican who introduced the House bill, said the state required hog lagoons and sprayfields years ago when tobacco farmers began to diversify. The open-air lagoons hold hog waste, and the liquid is removed and put onto sprayfields as fertilizer.

Because the state was involved in creating the lagoons, Justice said she believes the state has a responsibility to clean them up.

She introduced a bill last year that would have provided $10 million for about 25 farmers to try the new technology. The bill failed to win support from a House committee.

In addition to providing more funding, this year’s version also would replace a 10-year moratorium on new or expanded hog farms with permanent standards that would allow new farms. It also includes provisions to convert methane gas into a marketable energy source. The bill would not affect any of the existing hog lagoons.

Source: FayObserver.com

5m Editor