Commentary: Same old tune on hog waste

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Pass a "farmer friendly" hog waste bill, take more than a year to settle on rules to implement it, mix with a weak farm economy and what do you get?

More of the same from North Carolina's thousands of hog-waste lagoons.

More stink. More troublesome nitrogen and ammonia in the air and waterways. And more years of a backward system of handling the copious wastes of millions of industrially raised hogs.

Sorry, but that's the latest chapter in our state's long-running story of wholesale pig production (we're second only to Iowa). If there's hope for progress it lies beyond the horizon – as it has ever since the industry expanded here so dramatically two decades ago.

The new rules, the offspring of legislative action in 2007, took effect Jan. 1. Commendably, they ban the use of lagoons – shallow ponds that store wastes for spraying over fields as fertilizer – on new or expanded hog farms. They also set much-improved standards for the waste systems that would replace lagoons.

To read the complete editorial, visit The (Raleigh) News & Observer.