Keep Toxic Waste Out of Our Yards
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No one likes when neighbors neglect to curb their dogs – particularly when poop lands in our front yard. Imagine if that poop was 10 billion gallons of fecal waste yearly and it was turning up in the air you breathe, the soil where you grow your food, and the water you drink and bathe in.
That’s life in North Carolina, where the Department of Environmental Quality has turned a blind eye to factory farms, who routinely dump toxic waste too close to homes, schools, and churches. It isn't just foul-smelling; it's also a health threat.
Manure has been known to carry E. coli, salmonella, cryptosporidium and other bacteria that can lead to serious illness or death if they spread to humans. A 2016 Duke University School of Medicine report linked exposure to waste from hog farms with acute blood pressure increase, impaired neurobehavioral and pulmonary function. It also pointed to carcinogenic effects induced by chemicals from hog farming waste. Respiratory illnesses are another concern, yet dry-litter operations are exempt from state odor ordinances, and federal regulators don't monitor poultry plant air emissions.
Factory farm facilities are responsible for a lot more animals than your neighbor with the dog. We’re talking about some 200 million birds, 9 million pigs, and more than 810,000 cattle. And their waste output is staggering.
Pig and cattle facilities collectively produce 10 billion gallons of wet fecal waste yearly, enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. Factor in 2 million tons of dry waste from the state’s 200 million factory-farmed birds, and you start to see why there’s been such a stink about factory farming in this state.
Enough is enough. North Carolina tax payers deserve better. Thankfully, for the first time since 2005, residents have an opportunity to comment on updating the waste regulations – the “2T” rules (15A NCAC 02T) – which are grossly inadequate.
Together, we can push for policies that restrict the growth and negative impact of factory farms in the state by raising the following concerns and recommendations:
- The current absence of a permitting process with regard to new poultry operations leaves the state unable to provide basic oversight and prevent irresponsible practices of these facilities. Poultry operations are the fastest-growing source of agricultural pollution, and the state needs to protect its citizens from this industry.
- Given the disparate impact of animal operations (especially hog farms) on vulnerable communities, the state should take additional measures to protect those at the greatest risk.
- The state department of environmental quality should require that livestock and poultry operators sample surface water, ground water, and air quality in order to protect residents.
- Farmers should be incentivized to grow more fruits, vegetables, and other healthy plant foods, which can be produced in a more ecologically sound way than animal products.
We're all neighbors; what hurts our neighbors, threatens us all. Thank you for joining Farm Sanctuary in sending NC DEQ the attached letter to help prevent industrial animal farms from threatening the environment, and the health and well-being of North Carolina’s residents.
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