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Hunt Proposes Moratorium on Hog Farms to Study...

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Protestors march in response to Gov. Hunt's announcement.
RALEIGH (AP) — Gov. Jim Hunt today asked lawmakers for atwo-year moratorium on new construction of hog farms while zoningis studied and environmental problems are analyzed.

But as hundreds of hog farmers and their supporters protestedoutside his news conference, Hunt said he has not worked outdetails of the moratorium with legislators and does not yet have asponsor for the bill. The deadline for drafting bills without anappropriation is Thursday.

Hunt also indicated he might support giving counties zoningauthority if that zoning is based on scientific evidence. But herefused to say directly that he would support zoning authority forcounties, which is the centerpiece of new hog regulations proposedby Rep. Richard Morgan, R-Moore.

``I have said what I have said,'' Hunt responded, when asked fora simple ``yes'' or ``no'' on his support for county zoningauthority over intensive hog farms. ``I support county zoning if wedo it right.''

Morgan's bill contains a one-year moratorium on intensive hogfarms statewide.

Hunt said he doubted a moratorium would have significantfinancial impacts.

``I am not suggesting we do anything to cut back on hog farmsthat are operating now,'' Hunt said. ``People in the pork industrytell me there are not many out there planning to expand. They saywe practically have a moratorium right now.''

Whitley Stephensen, president of the North Carolina PorkCouncil, said Hunt has chosen to ignore hog farmers.

``We believe that the leadership of this state has failed us,''Stephensen said.

``We have tried to work within the system,'' he said. ``We'vebeen told that all of this legislation won't hurt us. We've beentold these things are for our own good and the good of theenvironment. We've been told to just be patient.''

``That long of a moratorium will break a lot of people,'' saidWalter Cherry, executive director of the North Carolina PorkProducers Association. ``It's going to cause some real financialproblems.''

Hunt, questioned by a hog industry supporter at his newsconference, said the industry could come out of a moratoriumstronger.

``If we take the time here, ... the future of this industry allover the country is going to be brighter,'' Hunt said.

The hog industry's problems became apparent in 1995 after aseries of major hog waste lagoon spills sent millions of gallons ofpig feces and urine into streams and rivers.

Hog industry spokesmen have said the focus on environmentalproblems of hog farming takes the spotlight away from otherpollution sources that have fouled the Neuse River and otherwaterways in eastern North Carolina.

By DENNIS PATTERSON,Associated Press WriterCopyright ©1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

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