Last week, seven corporate agriculture interest groups sued the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to halt the extension of a public comment period on a proposed mega-dairy expansion in Winona County, Minnesota. The suit highlights broader efforts by agribusiness to silence opposition from rural residents who speak out against large concentrated animal feeding operations in their communities. (No paywall)
The EPA has proposed a rule that would exempt industrial livestock farms from a requirement under a “community right-to-know law” that they notify state and local officials of gases produced by the manure on their farms. (No paywall)
In order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, Smithfield Foods set a target on Thursday of equipping 90 percent of its hog-finishing facilities in three states with manure-to-energy digesters to capture biogas for eventual sale as renewable natural gas.
Hurricane Florence is the latest illustration that "flood-prone coastal states like North Carolina are no place for CAFOs," said the Union of Concerned Scientists, calling for tighter regulation of industrial livestock farms. Gov. Roy Cooper and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are scheduled to view agricultural damage today and may see some of the four dozen manure lagoons statewide that are flooded or overflowing because of storm water.
Some 57 manure lagoons in North Carolina were flooded, overflowing, or structurally damaged by the heavy rains and floods caused by Hurricane Florence — an increase of 14 in a day, said the state Department of Environmental Quality on Thursday.
Twice as many livestock have died in North Carolina due to Hurricane Florence as perished in Hurricane Matthew two years ago, and more manure lagoons have been damaged or flooded, state agencies said on Wednesday.
The third-largest U.S. poultry processor lost at least 8 percent of its chickens in North Carolina due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, and expects lower meat production through December as a result. Sanderson Farms was the first meat processor to announce livestock losses: 1.7 million chickens.
Two national farm leaders called for federal protection from lawsuits that hold farmers liable for the noise and foul odors of increasingly large-scale agricultural production. "It is time for our elected leaders to step up and stop this madness," said Howard Hill, speaking for U.S. hog farmers and taking aim at lawsuits that allege North Carolina hog farms are nuisances to their neighbors. "The regulations need to be on the trial lawyers," said president Zippy Duvall of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
A federal jury awarded six neighbors of industrial hog farms in North Carolina $473.5 million in damages on Friday. The lawsuit is the third so far on the waste-management practices of Smithfield-associated hog farms in the state. Earlier verdicts have awarded plaintiffs about $75 million.
As a young man, Johnny Carroll Sain dreamed of owning an industrial hog farm like his uncle. Eventually, he did, raising hogs for Cargill on 55 acres in northern Arkansas. He's out of the business now, and in FERN's latest piece, published with Arkansas Life, he explores how industrial meat production has damaged the environment, the economy, and the social cohesion in his rural community. (No paywall)