Regarding the July 20 letter “Hog farm hype”: Regulation of North Carolina animal operations is among the most stringent in the nation. North Carolina’s economy relies heavily on the $84 billion a year in revenue that is generated by agriculture, including the $56 billion livestock industry that has long been a way of life for many families.
Contrary to recent reports that ignore the facts about the industry, North Carolina operates transparently, under strict oversight and with safeguards in place to protect the environment. Since the early 1990s, the state environmental department has been responsible for regulating livestock farming.
Its Animal Feeding Operations Program is widely recognized as one of the most stringent in the nation and includes annual inspections, permitting, siting requirements, buffer requirements, record keeping and reporting and manure management.
Wet waste systems employed by hog operations and some poultry farms operate under permits that include detailed performance standards, specific operation and management standards and numerous monitoring and reporting requirements.
For a number of years, the department has made information about the facilities it permits readily available to the public, including its own interactive map and regularly updated list of permitted animal operations, which can be found online at deq.nc.gov/cafo-map. Copies of permits and the required Certified Animal Waste Management Plans can be obtained from our offices. Anyone can view or request copies of these publicly available documents.
In contrast to the wet waste systems employed by hog operations and some poultry farms, waste from dry litter systems is less likely to affect surface waters. Accordingly, when the General Assembly created laws in 1996 that govern all animal feeding operations, it determined that dry litter poultry operations should be deemed permitted provided they meet certain conditions.
Those requirements include having an animal waste management plan that regulates the applications of manure.
The state environmental department takes seriously its primary mission of protecting the environment, and its staff works diligently every day to ensure that the laws and regulations that safeguard North Carolina’s environment are being protected.
Animal Feeding Operations Program Manager, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the issue.