Pollution from hog farming (CAFOs), USA


Over the past decade, the number of hog producers in the state of North Carolina has fallen from 23,000 to 8,000, but the number of hogs in the state has nearly tripled. North Carolina went from fifteenth to second in hog production in the United States between the mid-1980s and mid-1990s (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a182/).

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Basic Data
NamePollution from hog farming (CAFOs), USA
CountryUnited States of America
ProvinceNorth Carolina
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project Details7.5 million hogs create 15.5 millions tons of waste per year.

There have been many disastrous events such as flooding and hurricanes which have resulted in even more waste and negative impacts to nearby residents and the environment. In 1995, collective opposition expanded even more after the rupturing of several hog waste lagoons, which spilled over 40 million gallons of swine feces and urine into streams and rivers in eastern North Carolina’s Coastal Plain. The spill created nutrient loads that are attributed to the estimated death of 10 to 15 million fish and cost the state thousands of dollars in cleanup (http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/handle/2027.42/90920/Jen_Horton_final2[1].pdf?sequence=1).
Project Area (in hectares)129
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1991
Company Names or State EnterprisesSmithfield Foods, Inc from United States of America - recently bought by Shuanghui, a Chinese company
Relevant government actorsNorth Carolina State Legislature, state Attorney General
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAlliance for Responsible Swine Industry, Halifax Environmental Loss Prevention, Neuse River Foundation, Institute for Southern Studies, Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Forms of MobilizationDevelopment of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseEnvironmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of AlternativesA few pioneers who are implementing environmentally superior technologies (ESTs) are creating what could be the future of hog farming. One of these involves a sustainable operation that generates renewable energy and carbon offsets. Google has partnered with Duke University and Duke energy to turn Yadkin County’s Lloyd Ray Farms into such an operation. In this project, methane from hog waste is captured using an anaerobic digester and this methane provides fuel to run a microturbine that powers part of the farm and supports components that reduce odors, nutrients, pathogens, and heavy metals. The carbon credits are shared by Google and Duke University while Duke Energy receives the renewable energy certificates (RECs). (http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/121-a182/).
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Farming activities are still ongoing
Sources and Materials

Intensive Livestock Ordinance passed in 1992 which prevented 3 out of 7 hog farms from opening in Halifax County

2007 Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act, which banned new lagoons and mandated that any new or expanded CAFOs must use environmentally superior technologies (ESTs) to substantially reduce emissions and prevent waste discharges into surface and ground waters

North Carolina House Bill 515 was passed in 1997 which gave counties the power to pass zoning amendments to control hog farm location
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(1) 'CAFOs and Environmental Justice: The Case of North Carolina.' Environmental Health Perspectives 121.6 (2013): 182-90. Environmental Health Perspectives.; (2) Horton, Jen. 'The Siting of Hog CAFOs in Eastern North Carolina: A Case of Environmental Inj
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CAFOs and Environmental Justice: The Case of North Carolina
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NC hog farm threatened with citizen lawsuit over water pollution
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Other Documents

Sign protesting water pollution as a result of hog farming practices
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Map of hog farms in North Carolina watersheds 1997
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Map of North Carolina hog operations
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Hog lagoon Permitted by North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
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CAFO image
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CAFO image 2
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Hog waste applied to spray fields
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Other CommentsThis is one of the top 40 influential environmental justice cases in the United States identified from a national survey of environmental activists, scholars and other leaders by graduate students at the University of Michigan

Local grassroots groups have been largely supported by larger non-profits and NGOs including Food and Water Watch, Clean Water Network, and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Meta Information
ContributorBernadette Grafton, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015