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Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and minority residents in Kenansville North Carolina, USA


The city of Kennansville and the surrounding Duplin County area is a major hub of hog processing in the form of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations. In 2007 alone the county processed 2,274,524 hogs. CAFO operations are disproportionatly located near low income African American and Hispanic communities. One study found that CAFOs were nine times more likely to be sited in areas with high poverty and a large minority community even controlling for population density. Waste from the CAFOs is stored untreated in large lagoons and then applied to the land. These lagoos of waste contain harmful pathogens, insecticides, antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals as well as nitorgen and phosphorus. The waste leaches into the surrounding ground and over overflows during times of heavy rainfall contaminating local watersheds. Pollution and odor also travel through the air in fine particles that coat outside surfaces. Testing in the area has found high levels of hydrogen sulfide, endotoxin, coarse particulate matter, and semivolatile compounds. Local residents have complained of resperatory problems, irritated skin, and eyes, and nausea.

In 2007 a moratorium on new hog CAFOs became law. However, regulations on existing hog operations remains weak. After some legislative victories in 2011 the General Assembly passed an act S.L. 2011-118. SB 501 which allows hog farms to update their facilities without updated the safety technology in their waste lagoons. Some have objected that this counters previous agreements to implement the best environmental technology.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and minority residents in Kenansville North Carolina, USA
Country:United States of America
State or province:North Carolina
Location of conflict:Kenansville
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local 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:Meat

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There are more than forty permited swine feeding operation facilities in Kenansville with capacity for more than 19,000,000 animals and 771 waste lagoons. In the entire county of Dupline permits have been issued for more than 15 million swine and 36967 waste lagoons ( Duplin county population was 60033 in 2012. Of that 26% were African American, 21.2% Latino or Hispanic and 22.7% lived below the poverty line making them statistically more vulnerable to pollution hazards.

Project area:492,210,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Start of the conflict:1980
Relevant government actors:One major problem is that the Department of Health does not have the authority to regulate CAFOs in North Carolina.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Clean Water for North Carolina, Organic Consumers Association, Rural Empowerment Association for Community Help, North Carolina Environmental Justice Network

Conflict & Mobilization

Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Low inome, rural, African American, Immigrant
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:New legislation
improved technology
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Some legislative improvements have been made but in general the existing CAFOs remain under-regulated. Increasing public attention being drawn to labor and environmental issues connected to CAFOs, legislative campaign, public awareness efforts continue.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislationsĀ - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Swine Farm Environmental Performance Standards Act

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

Examination of atmospheric ammonia levels near hog CAFOs, homes, and schools in Eastern North Carolina. Sacoby M. Wilsona, Marc L. Serreb

Intensive livestock operations, health, and quality of life among eastern North Carolina residents. S Wing and S Wolf

CAFOs and Environmental Justice The Case of North Carolina.' Environmental Health Perspectives 121, no. 6 (2013): A182-A189

LinksĀ to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

Factory Farm Map.' Food and Water Watch. (accessed February 10, 2014);location:US;year:2002

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.

Meta information

Contributor:Katy Hintzen, [email protected], University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment
Last update07/05/2015