Eastern North Carolina residents seek stricter requirements for hog farms

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently played host an event for farmers and citizens to discuss the state's livestock permitting process.

At the event, many shared testimonies of concerns over the changes being made, while others voiced their concerns over the air and water quality near hog farms in eastern North Carolina.

Duplin Commissioner Jessie Ladson shared a story from when she returned home in 2008.

"We were outside barbequing and the wind came and the mist came and I said, 'Mom, what in the hell is this?' She said, 'They're raising hogs,' and my father said, "No, baby, they're mass producing hogs.'"

Dr. Robert Parr, an emergency physician in Wilmington, noted that the health statistics for eastern North Carolina were terrible.

"If you look at the health statistics for the area, they are abysmal," Parr said. "Duplin County, on a scale of 100, ranks 68 in health score. You want to be No. 1. Samson County is 79. Bladen County is 95. Columbus County is 96. Everybody in this room would be healthier right now if they'd breathed better air during their lives."

Elsie Herring, a Wallace resident, said the industry was aware that hog farming was affecting minority groups.

"The industry knows very well that these facilities are located in areas with people of color and low income," Herring said. "We need that on the front burner when these decisions are made."

Rep. Jimmy Dixon (R-Duplin) was vocal about his disagreement with environmentalists in regards to miority groups being more affected by the factory hog farming.

"There was one misrepresented fact that you have and that is that our facilities disproportionately affect minorities," Dixon said. "That is false. Here's the truth, if you take our animal facilities and you measure one-half mile from them it is 62 percent white. Fact-check me."

The DEQ is currently proposing substantial changes and stricter requirements in its swine waste management system general permit, which is reissued every five years, according to North Carolina Health News. The new permit would take effect Sept. 30.

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