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N.C. House panel forwards bill to set new standards for hog waste

by 5m Editor
19 July 2007, at 10:46am

NORTH CAROLINA - Lawmakers are inching closer to requiring North Carolina's swine farmers to gradually abandon their smelly and unpopular waste lagoons in favor of cleaner systems that are safer for the environment.

A House committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would set tougher standards for hog waste management and create a cost-sharing program for the first farms to install the expensive new systems.

"We've been working for over two years and, finally, we've got something on paper that everyone may not like everything, but they can live with it," Lamont Futrell, a Wilson County hog farmer, told the House Agriculture Committee. "It's progress, that's what it is."

A decade-old moratorium on new hog lagoons is due to expire Sept. 1, and the measure approved Wednesday effectively replaces it by phasing out existing ones and setting the regulatory bar too high to allow any new ones to be built.

It has another committee to clear before it reaches the full House, and the Senate will also have to concur with changes made in the House.

Environmental, farm and industry groups, which spent months negotiating a similar House bill sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Justice, R-Pender, have already made their support clear.

"We believe this is a good bill that meets a shared goal of protecting our environment and also allowing our producers to continue making a living on their farms," said Tommy Stevens of the North Carolina Pork Council, an industry group.

North Carolina is second only to Iowa in hog farming, with $6.7 billion in annual sales, 46,000 jobs, and 10 million animals that produce 13 million pounds of manure and urine each day.

Source: FayObserver.com

5m Editor