Business

Hog farmers vow to fight odor lawsuits

Posted July 24, 2013

— Hog farmers connected to Smithfield Foods filed notice Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court that they plan to fight complaints from nearby residents of foul odor and pollution from their farms.

Hundreds of complaints were filed about three weeks ago, giving notice of potential lawsuits over the negative impact that living near a hog waste lagoon in eastern North Carolina has on property values and quality of life.

That legal action set up the possibility of mediation, but Murphy-Brown and affiliated farms in Duplin, Sampson, Bladen, Pender and Greene Counties have rejected mediation and vowed to fight the complaints.

"We view this as a money grab. This is an attack on good, honest, law-abiding farmers," Murphy-Brown spokesman Don Butler told WRAL News.

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he hopes the industry wins the battle, noting that pork production accounts for more than $2.5 billion in farm income and about 46,000 jobs in North Carolina.

"Hog farmers help feed our state, nation and world while operating under heavy regulation," Troxler said in a statement. "It's a shame these hardworking families will likely be sued for pursuing their livelihood within the requirements of the law. I certainly hope the farm families and this important economic sector won't be damaged."

The state reached a settlement with pork producers in 2000 calling for environmental projects and research to improve the safety and operations of the lagoons. Farmers acknowledge little has changed in their disposal techniques since then because alternatives weren't economical.

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  • cheezchicken Jul 26, 8:27 a.m.

    There is certainly culpability on both sides. America's GNP cannon continue to move towards "property value". Large AgriBusiness must invest in new technology that ensures their long-term viability. But at the end of the day: No Farms, No Food. Farming is a dirty, at-times-smelly business. Urbanites and suburbanites should remember that there are hard working residents out there looking out for their food needs.

  • jcthai Jul 26, 8:23 a.m.

    Whether or not the affected parties lived there before or after the hog farms began polluting and making the surrounding land unliveable is irrelevant. The hog farms don't have the right to pollute and stink up the lands around them, period. If no one lives on that land right now and no one is complaining, you still don't have the right to do it. When someone does move it and you are infringing on their rights, you must stop. It's sad that these corporate hog farms don't understand basic concepts like property rights and that legal action will be necessary to stop them.

  • mrman2a Jul 25, 6:43 p.m.

    As long as the owners have to live in smelling distance of their little piggy banks.

  • Scubagirl Jul 25, 6:35 p.m.

    I heard on the news that these complaints were SOLICITED BY OUT OF STATE ATTORNEYS/AMBULANCE CHASERS. How disgusting! All they care about is MONEY!!!!!

  • MyNameIsMud Jul 25, 6:29 p.m.

    "Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he hopes the industry wins the battle, noting that pork production accounts for more than $2.5 billion in farm income and about 46,000 jobs in North Carolina."

    US taxpayers have funded multiple studies to reduce hog farm pollution and odor for over a decade. With $2.5 billion dollars, I think the hog industry can afford to clean up after themselves and find new solutions.

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jul 25, 5:52 p.m.

    "if the legislature said that "we need to frack, we need natural gas now", you would be okay with overriding all personal property rights? You would be okay with polluting your own water table with over 200 chemicals, many of them known carcinogens, and many others "secret and experimental"? You would be okay with detonating underground fracking explosions (possible earthquake magnitudes up to 6.0) within 50 miles of Shearon Harris, which is build to handle earthquakes up to 6.0?" - ilovedowntownraleigh

    "Guess you are ok with other states and countries doing it for you to use." - mj1angier

    There you go, mj1: my actual post, your actual response. Is that really your well-considered response to my questions?

  • ILoveDowntownRaleigh Jul 25, 5:45 p.m.

    "I have a good idea that you use, wear, or consume something that was grown on a farm or transported on an air plane. Maybe even the computer that you are typing on... Use your brain.." - mj1angie

    mj1, welcome to the thread! :-) Thanks for your "thoughtful" advice. I will consider the source, having read some of your posts before.

  • mj1angier Jul 25, 5:38 p.m.

    "You would be okay with polluting your own water table" ILoveDowntownRaleigh

    Guess you are ok with other states and countries doing it for you to use

  • Bill Brasky Jul 25, 5:38 p.m.

    Many of these hog farms were built in the 1990s, and these farms only moved to NC after being kicked out of other regions of the US due to polution and law breaking. These yuppies may have lived there long before the hog farms. The lawsuits could be justified.

    Ever drove down I-40 on a hot Summer day between Raleigh and Wilmington? Be prepared to roll your windows up and put the air on recirculate.

  • jeffjohnson123 Jul 25, 5:35 p.m.

    My family has lived on a farm for 80 years. We don't farm hogs. I've complained about the odor from neighbouring farms but no one listens. I would hope the hog-farm operators would take action without suits. If not, some may begin publicizing just what goes on a hog-farm. If more people saw the conditions fewer people would eat pork.

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