Industrial-scale hog farming has been a contentious issue in Eastern North Carolina for decades. In 1997, amid uproar about environmental problems in hog farming, the state slapped a temporary moratorium on new or expanded hog farms that used what is known as the lagoon-and-spray-field method. It’s simple and relatively inexpensive, yet odorous and pollution prone: Waste is flushed from hog barns into open-air lagoons, and the effluent is sprayed on fields.
In 2000, Attorney General Mike Easley negotiated the landmark Smithfield Agreement with the state’s main pork producers in which the company agreed to concessions including paying $50 million over 25 years for environmental projects. They also funded a $17.1 million research quest for a new method of treating hog waste.
Yet in 2013, virtually all North Carolina hog farms still use the same method.
[Don] Webb, a former hog farmer himself, owns a fishing camp – a string of small lakes where members fish for bass, brim and crappie – near Stantonsburg in Wilson County.
Webb said Stantonsburg recently spent millions on a sewer system for its 800 residents. But a farm with 3,400 hogs, which might produce the equivalent waste of 10,000 people, is allowed to store its sewage in ponds and spray the contents on fields.
“They need to keep their stench on their own land,” Webb said. “A good American would never stink up another American’s home with feces and urine.”
Another complainant is Elsie Herring of Wallace, who lives on a family plot her grandfather bought 99 years ago. Next door is a hog farm with two hog houses and a lagoon. The farmers spray the hog waste on fields next to the Herrings’ property.
“Sometime it comes over like it’s raining on us,” Herring said. “It holds us prisoner in our own home. It has changed our life entirely.”
Here is the abstract from the seminal pig poop paper (PPP):
A hedonic study of rural residential house sales in southeastern North Carolina was conducted to determine the effect of large-scale hog operations on surrounding property values. An index of hog manure production at different distances from the houses was developed. It was found that proximity caused a statistically significant reduction in house prices of up to 9 percent depending on the number of hogs and their distance from the house. The effect on the price of a house from opening a new operation depended on the number of hogs already in the area.
*Note: Either that, or male graduate students are not good Americans.