Keeping pollution out of North Carolina’s rivers by paying farmers to shut down their hog farms in flood plains is something the pork industry has said it would support.
On Thursday, the N.C. Pork Council announced its board of directors has voted unanimously to support re-establishing a voluntary easement conservation program run by the state.
North Carolina has purchased easements for 42 hog farms and closed 103 lagoons since 2000, according to the council. Those easements cannot be used as feed lots, for animal waste-management systems or to spray liquid fertilizer. Some agricultural uses, such as growing row crops or planting trees, can be used in the easements.
The council says it has been in discussions since last fall with state agriculture officials about ways to pay for the program. Between 15 and 20 hog farms have been identified for potential easements.
“We are continually looking for ways to help proactively protect our state’s waterways, especially during hurricanes and other severe weather events,” Andy Curliss, CEO of the Pork Council, said in a statement. “The pork industry supports efforts to re-establish a voluntary conservation program involving hog farms located in flood-prone areas and we will continue to work with the N.C. Department of Agriculture to encourage funding for this program.”
The vote follows a recent report by an environmental organization, American Rivers, that called on the state legislature to restore funding to buy easements and close hog waste lagoons in floodplains through the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. The group also wants the state to remove large-scale livestock feeding operations from 100-year floodplains.