Local News

Chatham Health Board Passes Strict Livestock Rules

Posted March 26, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— As factory-style hog farms proliferate across North Carolina, more and more neighbors are complaining about environmental concerns and the aroma. On Tuesday, Chatham County's health board enacted livestock and poultry regulations that are stricter than the state's.

Chatham's rules include buffers of up to 5,500 feet between large livestock operations and occupied buildings on neighboring property.

The rules apply to Intensive Livestock Operations (ILO), which:

  • Use a liquid waste handling system (a lagoon).
  • Confine the animals and feed them other than by grazing.
  • Have a certain number of animals.

    ILO farmers also would have to post bonds to cover cleanup costs if their lagoons spill or had to be closed after a farm failed, and would have to pay to have their wells tested regularly.

    Paul McCoy, longtime president of the county farm bureau, said that the regulations would kill farming in Chatham, a county whose agricultural lifestyle goes back 200 years.

    Barbara Lorie, a livestock opponent who spoke during the public hearing prior to the board's vote, alleged that the legislature and governor have been "bought off" by big farm operators. She said the "buck stops" at the Chatham County health board.

    Eighty percent of state legislators received campaign contributions from swine supporters. For their part, the lawmakers argue that a high number of their constituents are also opposed to the large farm concept, especially hog farms.