Local News

Duplin County Not Included in Pilot Program for Hog Farm Inspection

Posted October 22, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Buried deep inside the state budget this year are two paragraphs that create a pilot program for inspecting hog farms. The program was originally going to be tried in Duplin County but after an uproar from environmentalists and a reversal from state leaders, that has all changed.

Duplin County is the hog capital of North Carolina, so environmentals were caught by surprise when the state decided to turn hog inspections in Duplin over to the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, the agency designed to help farmers, not enforce the law.

The perception out there is that farmers are getting a break from the DSW more so than they would from DEHNR inspectors.

"This does not give a break to anybody," said Don Reuter, DEHNR spokesman. "And the fact of the matter is probably they're going to get more scrutiny than others because of that appearance."

After news reports about the change, the Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources has changed its mind because officials said there are just too many hogs in Duplin County.

"The biggest county in terms of population and that does not make sense to use that as a pilot," said Reuter. "It was just not manageable to do it in Duplin County."

Two counties with fewer hogs, Columbus and Jones, will host the pilot program instead. The lawmaker who put the language into the budget is Sen. Charlie Albertson, a Democrat from Duplin County.

Sen. Albertson told the Associated Press he's surprised his home county is no longer in the pilot program, but environmentalists are ecstatic.

The pilot program goes into effect on the first of the year. DEHNR leaders said inspectors from water quality will accompany soil and water workers for the first few months. They want to make it clear that hog farmers will not be skating by if they're in violation.