Journalism group supports ag-gag overturn in North Carolina

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press along with 21 other media groups filed a brief last week in support of efforts to overturn North Carolina's ag-gag law, which criminalizes the collection and sharing of information about farm business practices with reporters or advocacy groups.

Dorian has limited impact on North Carolina manure lagoons

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."

Complaints about North Carolina’s hog industry vanished in state bureaucracy

For years, complaints about hog pollution in North Carolina disappeared after they were filed with state authorities, FERN's latest story with The Guardian and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting says. But as a result of a settlement with environmental justice groups, the state this year began posting complaints online – exceeding in six months the number of complaints in the prior decade.

Environmental groups sue to challenge North Carolina right-to-farm expansion

Four environmental groups filed a constitutional challenge on Wednesday against recent amendments to North Carolina’s “right-to-farm” laws. The suit takes on two state laws, passed in 2017 and 2018, that limit residents’ ability to file nuisance suits against large-scale …

Enviva, a giant in wood pellets, shifts tree-sourcing policy

Enviva, the largest industrial wood-pellet manufacturer in the world, launched what it calls an “enhanced and expanded global sourcing policy” last week in partnership with Earthworm Foundation, a non-profit that helps businesses reform their supply chains. The announcement came a few weeks after the publication of a report by FERN, in collaboration with The Weather Channel, spotlighting the company’s environmental practices.

GOP hoots ‘elitist’ as Democrats question USDA’s plan to relocate researchers

Hoping to dissuade Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, farm-state Democrats in Congress asked for a cost-benefit analysis that would justify moving two USDA research agencies out of Washington. Two senior Republicans on the House Agriculture Committee ridiculed the opposition to the relocation as elitism and knee-jerk obstructionism of President Trump.

Secret sites are on USDA’s short list for new homes of relocated agencies

The finalists in Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue's plan to move two research agencies out of Washington include "multiple" undisclosed sites in Indiana, a symbol of complaints of hidden motives and scanty material to support the move. Separately, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, a perennial USDA research partner, said it feared relocation would damage the effectiveness of the grant-making National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Harvesting American forests for the EU’s ‘green’ electricity plants

Wood-processing plants around the South are turning trees into pellets and then exporting them to be burned in electricity plants in the EU. It's part of the EU's initiative to generate "green" electricity, but scientists question whether burning trees is really carbon neutral, according to FERN's latest story with The Weather Channel.(No paywall)

North Carolina poultry industry overtakes hogs in waste, report says

North Carolina has been grappling for years with the enormous quantity of waste produced by its hog farms. But the state has more than twice as many poultry farms, and the state must consider the impact of poultry waste when thinking about how to regulate the agriculture industry, says a new report from the Environmental Working Group.