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Orange County Hog Farmer In Court, Wants His Farm Reopened

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RALEIGH — Last week, state regulators closed an Orange County hog farm for environmental violations including a waste discharge that threatened a local water supply. Monday, the farm's owner tried to convince a judge to reopen the farm.

"I don't have any comment, I really don't," said hog farmer Fred McPherson.

With his family at his side, McPherson left the Chatham County Courthouse without speaking, but he did have a lot to say inside.

The state ordered McPherson to close his hog operation after finding waste lagoons at dangerously high levels and hog waste seeping into a local water supply.

McPherson told a judge he is guilty for causing some of the violations. But, he said he never tried to contaminate the environment or anyone's drinking water. State inspectors disagree.

"That's one opinion. What we've seen and have noticed on the farm is that's not the case," said environmental engineer Charles Alvarez.

The judge has ordered McPherson to keep his farm closed. He has two months to get the majority of his 4,000 hogs off his property.

He also has to get his hog waste lagoons down to safe levels within 30 days.

If McPherson does what the judge says, he may not have to go to trial next month. Either way, he must reapply for a hog farming permit.

State inspectors say there is no guarantee McPherson will get one because of his track record.

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Len Besthoff, Reporter
Terry Cantrell, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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