Judge declares much of N.C. ag-gag law unconstitutional

A federal judge handed a victory late Friday to animal-welfare advocates when he declared that much of North Carolina’s ag-gag law violated the First Amendment’s free-speech provisions. U.S. District Court Judge Thomas D. Schroeder’s ruling could also help employees who are trying to expose slaughterhouses that put their workforces at risk for Covid-19 infection, according to an attorney for the plaintiffs.(No paywall)

North Carolina food bank scrambles to feed the hungry

Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina distributed 82 million pounds of food last year, but this year it's scrambling to find the food and volunteers to deliver food directly to people in need, many of them seniors, Barry Yeoman writes in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

In North Carolina, pandemic prompts farmer cooperation

Even before he knew that city officials in Durham, North Carolina, would be suspending the local farmers’ market, George O’Neal was preparing for disruption. Last Saturday, he stood behind a table piled high with mustard greens and kale, holding a clipboard and taking names for what he hopes will become a model of coronavirus-era collaboration.(No paywall)

‘Nobody wants another Flint, Michigan,’ judge tells Smithfield in hog-case appeal hearing

Attorneys for a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, went before the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, Friday and asked three judges to overturn a $3.25 million jury award in a lawsuit filed by neighbors of a large North Carolina hog farm. …

The rural residents who took on the world’s largest hog producer – and won

Mostly black rural residents in North Carolina took on the hog industry’s biggest producer, Smithfield, and won multimillion-dollar verdicts over hog pollution, writer Barry Yeoman reports in FERN’s latest story. But the story, produced with The Nation, points out that these …

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 livestock farms and the …