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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 (

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Pollution from hog farming (CAFOs), USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:North Carolina
Location of conflict:Halifax
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 commodities:Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

7.5 million hogs create 15.5 millions tons of waste per year.

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Project area:129
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1991
Company names or state enterprises:Smithfield Foods, Inc from United States of America - recently bought by Shuanghui, a Chinese company
Relevant government actors:North Carolina State Legislature, state Attorney General
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Alliance for Responsible Swine Industry, Halifax Environmental Loss Prevention, Neuse River Foundation, Institute for Southern Studies, Concerned Citizens of Tillery (CCT)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Forms of mobilization:Development 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
Other Environmental impactsOdor
Health ImpactsVisible: Occupational disease and accidents, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsasthma
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Development of alternatives:A 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). (
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Farming activities are still ongoing
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

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

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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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

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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CAFOs and Environmental Justice: The Case of North Carolina
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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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Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

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NC hog farm threatened with citizen lawsuit over water pollution
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Other comments:This 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
Contributor:Bernadette Grafton, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update18/08/2019
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