This spring, the Biden administration began allocating $3.1 billion to hundreds of agriculture organizations, corporations, universities, and nonprofits for climate-smart projects. As Gabriel Popkin writes in FERN’s latest story, published with Yale Environment 360, “The USDA estimates that the 141 funded projects will, collectively over the project’s five-year lifetime, eliminate or sequester the equivalent of 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, on par with removing more than 2.4 million gas-powered cars from the road over the same period.”
A handful of livestock farms reported high water levels in their manure lagoons, but no breaches or overflows, after Hurricane Dorian left North Carolina with limited damage compared to Hurricane Florence a year ago. Gov. Roy Cooper summarized the views of local officials, residents and business owners, in saying over the weekend, "This could have been much worse for our state."
Recent actions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration have exempted big livestock operations from reporting air emissions, according to the latest story from FERN, published with Mother Jones. (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.
A month after Hurricane Florence swamped southern North Carolina with up to 40 inches of rain, state officials offered on Thursday to buy out hog farms that have a high risk of flooding in severe storms.
Gov. Roy Cooper earmarked $235 million for agriculture out of a proposed $1.5 billion in state spending for recovery from Hurricane Florence “and future storm resiliency” on Wednesday.
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.
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.
At least eight manure lagoons in hog-heavy southeastern North Carolina were breached, flooded or "overtopped" due to relentless rainfall from Hurricane Florence and flooding that is expected to continue for days, said a state official on Monday. The North Carolina Pork Council, a farm group, said "we remain concerned about the the potential impact of these record-shattering floods."
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.
Several national and local advocacy groups are calling on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to veto a bill that would greatly restrict the public's ability to sue large-scale animal farms over negative health and environmental effects. The state general assembly passed the bill on Friday.
Residents of tiny Lone Jack, MO, are fighting a proposal by a local ranch to expand its feedlot from around 600 cows to nearly 7,000. It is the latest in a series of communities pushing back against a national trend toward concentrated animal agriculture. (No paywall)
A coalition of 55 environmental, agricultural, and food-safety organizations signed a letter urging the Iowa General Assembly pass a moratorium on new and expanded factory farm development in the state. Iowa currently houses nearly 23 million hogs, a record for the state and the highest number in the country.
Rising ammonia emissions from farm animal waste and fertilizer are a major contributor to air pollution, causing death and illness around the world, according to FERN’s latest story, published with Ensia. “In the past 70 years, global emissions of ammonia have more than doubled,” writes Lindsey Konkel. (No paywall)
North Carolina is home to 8.8 million hogs, most of them in large barns in the eastern part of the state that draw complaints about noxious odors and the huge volume of manure generated by the hogs. Researchers at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), created in 1994, are running an experiment in raising hogs "without antibiotics in a way that grants them enough space to roam — and that keeps their waste out of open-air lagoons," says the North Carolina Health News.
In the floods caused by Hurricane Matthew, manure lagoons on North Carolina hog farms "withstood the storm remarkably well," said the North Carolina Pork Council. Fourteen lagoons were flooded and only one lagoon was partially breached — on a farm that has not housed hogs "for more than five years, significantly minimizing the environmental impact."
An environmental group, Waterkeeper Alliance, says floods from Hurricane Matthew swamped 98 barns on 27 poultry farms and 15 manure lagoons on nine hog farms in North Carolina based on reconnaissance flights over storm-hit territory. State environmental officials say their aerial observations determined one hog farm had two partial breaches, the most serious type of damage for release of animal waste from a manure lagoon.
Inspectors found flooding of some manure lagoons in eastern North Carolina, but their aerial inspection "did not show any confirmed breaches or overtopping," says the state Department of Environmental Quality. Environmental groups say the floods, a result of Hurricane Matthew, are a severe test of whether large-scale livestock farms, producing millions of hogs and broiler chickens a year, can keep animal waste from mixing with storm water.