Hogs

hog farm
Steve Wing, UNC-Chapel Hill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is launching an investigation into the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. 

The investigation will look at whether DENR was too lenient in regulating hog farms that are located near minority households. 

Residents and environmental groups have complained for years that collecting manure in lagoons before spraying onto fields is harmful and creates noxious fumes.

A Humane Society bus ad in Washington D.C., similar to one proposed for Raleigh buses.
Humane Society of the U.S.

The Humane Society of the United States is suing the Raleigh Transit Authority after the city rejected a bus advertisement showing pigs in cages. 

The ad proposal meant for the outside of buses has photos of pigs in gestation crates with the words, "How would you like to spend the rest of your life in a space as small as a bus seat?"

A North Carolina hog house being kept cool by large fans.
Bob Nichols, USDA NRCS

A fatal swine disease is striking the nation's hog industry. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus or PED is usually deadly for baby pigs. Its symptoms resemble dysentery, and it's spread through bodily secretions. Tom Ray, director of Livestock Health Programs for the state department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says so far, there have been only four confirmed cases in North Carolina. He expects the impact for farmers and the state's economy to be significant.

A USDA official meets with a hog farmer in Johnston County in 2011 to review animal waste management system.
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 hog farm in Lyons, Georgia.
Jeff Vanuga, USDA NRCS

The multi-billion dollar merger announcement between Smithfield Foods and China-based Shuanghui International caught many people by surprise.  Smithfield owns the largest hog processing plant in the world, in Tar Heel.  And thousands of hog farmers and factory workers in North Carolina are employed by the company.

If the deal clears regulatory hurdles, it could be the biggest takeover of a US company by a Chinese company.

A hog farm in Lyons, Georgia.
Jeff Vanuga, USDA NRCS

Researchers at Duke University say they have shed more light on the prospects of using hog waste to produce energy. 

Smithfield Foods promised to cut emissions.
humanesociety.org

Animal rights advocates are welcoming news that Smithfield Foods is on track to phase out the use of small metal crates for pregnant hogs. The company said in a statement it will end the practice by 2017. The non-profit Humane Society filed a federal complaint against Smithfield a month ago.

More than 50 new laws take effect this weekend in North Carolina.

Among the changes starting Saturday is a new provision in the medical malpractice law. People who file lawsuits will be limited to 500-thousand dollars in non-economic damages if they win a case. That includes compensation for pain, suffering and other injuries. There will not be a limit on payments for medical bills and lost wages.

Pigs just before auction, hogs,
Chris Cioffi

  Durham County Animal Shelter officials auctioned off five little pigs today. The young piglets made headlines two months ago after they turned up on interstate forty blocking traffic. The porkers have been living in a converted dog pen at the Durham County Animal Shelter. Lee Sackett of C-J Acres Animal Rescue Farm in Keystone Heights, Florida was the winning bidder. He paid $3,200 for the pigs.

Hog Farm Pollution Tied To Residents' Symptoms

Apr 25, 2011
Spraying hog waste and pig carcass disposal
Larry Baldwin, Neuse River Foundation

  People living near hog farms in the eastern part of the state experience breathing problems when emissions from hog waste are highest - that's from new research done by UNC environmental scientists. 

Epidemiologist Steve Wing from the Gillings School of Global Public Health placed air pollution monitors in communities surrounded by large hog farms. He says one of the most important gasses he measured is hydrogen sulfide. The rotten egg smelling gas is known to be toxic to the nervous and the respiratory systems.  Wing also asked residents to keep diaries of their symptoms. 

The fight between Smithfield and the United Food and Commercial Workers over unionizing the Tar Heel hog processing plant has entered a new phase. A federal judge in Virginia has allowed a lawsuit filed by Smithfield to go forward.

The suit accuses the UFCW of a coordinated public smear campaign.  It uses the RICO statutes that were created to fight organized crime. The lawsuit is the latest step in a confrontation that has slowly been moving out of the plant itself and into the kitchens and living rooms of consumers.

Many workers at the Smithfield hog processing plant in Tar Heel North Carolina continue to speak-out about what they call "bad" work conditions. But yesterday instead of just speaking-out – hundreds of workers walked out.