Environment
4:00 pm
Mon July 8, 2013

N.C. Hog Farm Neighbors File Nuisance Complaints

A USDA official meets with a hog farmer in Johnston County in 2011 to review animal waste management system.
A USDA official meets with a hog farmer in Johnston County in 2011 to review animal waste management system.
Credit Bob Nichols, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Hundreds of people in eastern North Carolina have filed nuisance complaints against Smithfield Foods about the way hog farmers dispose of their waste. 

A Wake County court received nearly 600 complaints last week.  They claim Smithfield and its independent contractors are polluting creeks.  They also say the stench from hog waste is a detriment to nearby homes. 

"They can pump their feces in the ground and spray it in the air.  They don't keep that odor and the toxic gases there.  They let them float onto my land and other people's land," said Don Webb, one of the complainants and a former hog farmer who now lives near a hog farm in Wilson County. "A good American would never stink up another American's home with feces and urine."

A spokeswoman for Smithfield Foods says the company is evaluating the complaints.  North Carolina law calls for both sides to participate in a mediation process.  State lawmakers are considering bills that would ban residents who are new to hog farm areas to file nuisance lawsuits.