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For the week of March 7 through 13, 2001

Unneeded ‘industry’ that smells, literally

The word obviously reached southern Idaho’s Cassia County in time about what a nuisance hog factories can be. A major hog farm’s application to open operations there has been rejected.

But the rest of Idaho is on notice: Big Sky Farms LLC hasn’t given up on finding a place in the state, which, according to national reports, is being targeted along with Indian reservations by hog factory operators for new farms.

Why Idaho? Because hog farms are being spurned in other states as undesirable.

North Carolina, second only to Iowa in hog farming, is a laboratory example of why hog factories are unwelcome and a source of chilling testimonials.

In the Tar Heel state, experiences with hog farms are a nightmare. They’re environmental disaster areas, literally.

One study, for example, claims that 5,000 hogs produce the same amount of manure as a city of 100,000 humans.

So calculate what Big Sky Farms’ proposed hog farm in Cassia County would’ve meant for residents¾ 595,000 hogs would’ve potentially produced manure equivalent to the population of an area of 11,900,000 people.

The fecal waste of an estimated 10 million hogs in North Carolina has become such a health and environmental menace that the state has appropriated millions of dollars to buy out large hog factories and close down their operations.

And politicians who once gladly and eagerly solicited campaign donations and influence of hog farmers have fled their embrace. Siding with hog farmers in North Carolina these days is tantamount to political hara-kiri.

Hog factories are not the same as small, family operations. Factories involve thousands of hogs crammed into low-ceilinged buildings, machine-fed and ripened for slaughter.

The turning point in North Carolina came in 1995 when a 25-million gallon lagoon of hog waste ruptured and spilled into the surrounding land, creating health and environmental crises.

Forget about the ugly prospect of hog manure seeping into rivers and streams and the public water supply. The smell of ammonia generated by manure and wafting in the air for miles has enraged communities, and resulted in the revolt against Carolina hog factory operators.

Before other Idaho counties fall prey to the blandishments and oily promises of economic prosperity by hog factory entrepreneurs, they should brush up on the real consequences documented in North Carolina.

And until the industry can produce far better methods of managing and disposing of vast lagoons of hog waste, the observation of one North Carolina environmentalist quoted in The Charlotte Observer is worth remembering: "Everything looked pretty rosy for the hog industry until the public got wind¾ literally got wind¾ of environmental problems associated with this industry."


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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.