Hog Farms -
purchased our house in 1987, before a hog slaughtering plant
was even in our county. And about four years ago, a hog farm
was built behind our house and they raised 7,300 topping hogs.
And another hog farm is located about one mile west of my
house which raises 6,000 topping hogs--and it's been a
nightmare for us for the last four years. We have not opened
our windows. Occasionally, we smell it inside our house, which
we're lucky--a lot of people get it all the time but we only
smell it occasionally in our house.
odor's usually worse in the mornings around 6:30--that's the
time I get up and go out to get the newspaper and it'll hit
you in your face some mornings when you walk out. And that's
how I start my day--just angry that I walk out my door and
smell this mess and have no control over it. And another time
it's really bad is usually around 7:30 or 8 at night--it's
just awful then; it's like a cloud rolling in."
have a birthday party a couple years ago at the house. And one
of my child's friends came up to my husband and said--'Will
you please call my mommy to come get me--I cannot stand the
smell.'--And that hurt. That really hurt bad."
our soil and water conservationist, he estimated that in
Bladen County about one-third of our hog growers are actual
farmers and the others are corporate and contract growers and
they're not farmers and he admitted that. And our county
economic development director that we had a couple years ago,
he told me after a meeting one night--he said you will not see
any good industry coming to Bladen County. All you're going to
see now will be hog-related.
These are not
traditional hog farms, these are just giant waste disposal
areas. The only reason a lot of so-called farmers grow crops
is just to have a place to spray the waste that they're
generating. They're not farmers, they don't know how to farm
and it's just sad to me--to see this happen, to see the run
off and to know about the polluted streams, creeks and
rivers--this is not farming. It's industry.
had paradise. We were living the American Dream and we got
married and we had a chance to buy an acre of land and a home.
And we were real tickled--you couldn't be no more tickled. We
were about a mile off the highway, we were back in Bear Swamp
is where it's at. And anybody who loves the outdoors, anybody
loves nature or anybody just loves to be alone--that was
perfect. I mean now that was to me and my wife, that was our
American dream, that was happiness."
surrounded right now by 21 hog houses and we don't have any
happiness. We don't have any home life--our home's been
If I had any
protection, them hogs got it. Ain't no consideration for Joe
and his house, it's hogs.
To start with,
waste is sprayed completely around our house except for one
corner. If you can imagine coming to our house--everybody
knows what it's like to go by a city sewage and most of the
time you'll have sewage lagoons on either side of the road and
you go through. Well that's out of town and it's a way out.
Well around my house you can hook a rock over the car hood or
sling it sideways in a hog lagoon.
say when you smell it--I'll say when you don't smell it. Our
lives have been completely and 110 percent destroyed."
house, you got the hog house effect. And that is when you
leave or you come in, the last thing you smell when you leave
is hogs; first thing you come in is you smell hogs. When you
get to the house, you get to a place that you're--I'll be
completely honest, it's a prison. You've got the shades
pulled, you've got the curtains pulled--you've got peepholes,
which in a prison you would call "check holes"--I
reckon to walk by and look in the cell.
Well around my
house it's to walk and look out to see--not that you want to
know what's going on 'cause you know what's going on. Number
one--you know that if there's any commotion out there, they're
setting up a sprinkler out there to spray hog waste. Number
two--is if you're looking, they're loading out hogs or coming
to get hogs. Anything that you do inside of that house is done
so you don't have to go outside of that house."
see my situation and where I'm at, I'll not belittle myself
enough to say it stinks today. Because where I'm at and
surrounded by 21 hog houses, who in the world with good common
sense (and you don't have to have good common sense, just
common sense) would tell you "that fellow smells
it." They smell it and that's our scenario."
this hog house effect, now that means I'm completely
surrounded by either "sprayfields" or hog houses.
And yet they tell me there's no reliable way to measure. What
in the world do I need to measure for--I don't need to
measure. If you've got a Diamondback rattlesnake and he's
fixing to bite you, you don't want to know how long he is! You
want to know two things: how quick you can get away and how
quick you can kill it."
What gets me is
that if my county health department comes to my house and sees
my lid off my septic tanks--Bud, ain't I in trouble. Number
two, if they see one of my lines leaking--Bud, ain't I in
But yet, 75
feet from where I have to lay my head at night you can run a
gun that'll shoot a 60 foot stream of hog waste out there by
my house? Now you tell me who has and hasn't got their
priorities straight, now.
Lived in Duplin
County all my life.
First job I
ever had wasn't three miles from here loading watermelons in
back of a trailer--25 cents an hour. Second job I ever had was
tobacco--50 cents an hour. I've had jobs and that's been my
life in and out of agriculture. I'm going to tell you
something about this new age farming now. I've known a lot of
farmers and I've respected a whole lot of farmers and still
do. But I'm going to tell you something--if hog farming is an
example of farming in the future, they have no future.
years ago, one of the neighbors put in a couple of hog houses
with a lagoon system. At the time it was a ?? area--most
people had hogs that were in runs or in small houses that were
either drug over the property, or barns. At the time, no one
really took too much notice of it. We smelled the hogs during
my childhood and (actually it was probably over 20 years ago)
we smelled the hogs a few times a year--no big deal because
we're all used to smelling hogs and used to smelling livestock
on all farms. It wasn't really offensive in that it wasn't
something we smelled everyday.
(I believe it was) 1990, he [neighboring factory hog farmer]
added on five more [hog] houses to that operation. That's when
the complexion of the whole situation changed for me--is that,
instead of smelling the houses occasionally, it got so bad
during the time of the start-up of the houses that we could
not go outside our homes. It was impossible for my children to
go out into the yard to be able to play in our yard. It was a
nuisance for me to go from my house to my truck to go to work
inthe mornings. And the thing that really got me realizing
this was completely wrong was the night I sat down to my
supper table and could not eat supper, because the smell of
stench in my own dining room from a [hog] house that was _
been in Duplin County since the 1740s, and here it is the hogs
are trying to run me out in the 1990s. And, this is
ridiculous. How can anything become this out of control with
politicians overlooking it--knowing it's happening. And yet no
one's coming to our rescue to say "hey, this is wrong and
there has to be some justice in this." And so far our
state has not taken on the responsibility to allow justice to
of these hog operations that we have here in eastern North
Carolina--it's hard to conceive of, but like the operation I'm
talking about right now produces the amount of waste of a city
of around 40,000 people. And you're talking about one man
responsible for that amount of waste. He can go in and
ruin--one operation can go in and ruin--the average
neighborhood and rural Duplin County. There's a lot of areas
maybe not have too many families that are affected by it.
[But] in Northern Duplin County, where every operation's put
in there's going to be a least five or six families, at a
minimum, that are going to suffer from this one person trying
to make a living. Somewhere or another, that seems wrong to me
when a lot of people have to sacrifice the quality of their
home so that one person can have that kind of commodity on his
I'm not too
optimistic about any type of system that can maintain too many
hogs in an area the size of Duplin County. I hear people say
that it can be done. I'm not anyone that's ever been involved
in water treatment, but I don't understand where
nitrates--we're bringing in millions of metric tons of
nitrates down the railroad from the Midwest, and bringing them
into Duplin County and feeding them to our hogs; and the
nitrates are in Duplin County. There's no train cars heading
back out to the Midwest with the nitrates that are coming in
from the corn back out to be able to be put on their fields.
They're being put on the fields in Duplin County, which has
been noted to be saturated with nitrates to start with.
If you take and
assume that the air's going to take care of the nitrates, it's
just going to translocate it maybe up to 100 miles and its
going to dump into--it's eventually going to go into the
tributaries or in the groundwater of an area within a 100 mile
radius of Duplin County. The only solution I see--I understand
there is some way that some can be broken down with enzymes
and that sort of thing--but it's still the bulk of the
nitrates are always going to be here unless the number of hogs
are cut down. I don't see how we can survive too many hogs in
Duplin County and make it fit for people to live.
On the 21st of
June, 1995, Oceanview Farms, in the upper reaches of the New
River, above Richlands, North Carolina--their lagoon ruptured,
completely inundating us with 25 million gallons of hog waste
and manure. When that happened, they destroyed 17 miles of
everything alive in the river.
traditional hog farms basically were family farms, and they
went on for generations, and, and the old farmers always
wanted to pass on to their sons, and their children, the
tradition of hog farming. These corporate entities, now, with
the almighty dollar and greed ruling supreme, will, there will
never be, under the current situation, a third-generation hog
farmer in North Carolina, because they'll kill everything is
sight before they ever get there. And they're putting all of
the independent hog farmers out of business.
bring jobs--they destroy jobs. And they destroy the boating
industry, and the tourist industry, the fishing industry. They
destroy the drinking water industry. What difference does it
make how much a pound of bacon costs if you don't have any
water to wash it down with? It doesn't matter.
Well, the one
thing that we can do is wake up the sleeping giant--the people
out here in this nation, that understand that corporate
entities can not be allowed to rule, with their almighty