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CAFOs often store animal waste in massive, open-air lagoons, like this one at Vanguard Farms in Chocowinity, North Carolina. Bacteria feeding on the animal waste turns the mixture a bright pink. picstever / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Tia Schwab

It has been almost a year since Hurricane Florence slammed the Carolinas, dumping a record 30 inches of rainfall in some parts of the states. At least 52 people died, and property and economic losses reached $24 billion, with nearly $17 billion in North Carolina alone. Flood waters also killed an estimated 3.5 million chickens and 5,500 hogs.

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Justin Cook / Earthjustice

By Emilie Karrick Surrusco

It's been nearly four months since Hurricane Florence battered the North Carolina coast, dumping 9 trillion gallons of water on the state in the span of four days. In Duplin County, home to the nation's largest concentration of industrial hog operations, the storm's deluge laid bare problems that persist in good weather and in bad.

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Lester Lefkowitz / Stone / Getty Images

One of the biggest winning groups in Tuesday's midterm elections didn't even get to cast a ballot: the nation's farm animals.

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Katharina Jaeger / LOOK / Getty Images

By Wyatt Massey

Sue George never intended to be an activist. The soft-spoken, retired elementary school teacher was content on her century farm near Lime Springs, a town in the rolling hills of northeast Iowa with a tad under 500 people.

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North Carolina hog CAFO in Hurricane Florence floodwaters, Sept. 18. Larry Baldwin / Crystal Coast Waterkeeper / Waterkeeper Alliance

By Karen Perry Stillerman

In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, I've joined millions who've watched with horror as the Carolinas have been inundated with floodwaters and worried about the various hazards those waters can contain. We've seen heavy metal-laden coal ash spills, a nuclear plant go on alert (thankfully without incident), and sewage treatment plants get swamped. But the biggest and most widely reported hazard associated with Florence appears to be the hog waste that is spilling from many of the state's thousands of CAFOs (confined animal feeding operations), and which threatens lasting havoc on public health and the local economy.

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A North Carolina concentrated animal feeding operation, or CAFO, on Sept.18, 2018, Larry Baldwin / Crystal Coast Waterkeeper.

The North Carolina Department of Agriculture said Wednesday that the historic flooding from Florence has killed about 3.4 million chickens and turkeys and 5,500 hogs.

"This was an unprecedented storm with flooding expected to exceed that from any other storms in recent memory. We know agricultural losses will be significant because the flooding has affected the top six agricultural counties in our state," said agriculture commissioner Steve Troxler in a press release.

The footprint of flooding from this storm covers much of the same area hit by flooding from Hurricane Matthew in 2016, which only worsens the burden on these farmers.
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Scott Olson / Getty Images News / Getty Images

By Olga Naidenko and Sydney Evans

Residents of communities near industrial-scale hog farms in North Carolina face an increased risk of potentially deadly diseases, Duke University scientists reported in a study released this week.

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A swine facility in North Carolina. Waterkeeper Alliance Inc. / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Sacoby Wilson

As U.S. livestock farming becomes more industrial, it is changing rural life. Many people now live near Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs)—large facilities that can house thousands of animals in close quarters. Neighbors have to contend with noxious odors, toxic emissions and swarms of insects, and have had little success in obtaining relief—but this could be changing.

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Ready for some inspiration? Check out this video of a press conference that took place earlier this month in Iowa.

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Photo credit: Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest

The DC Circuit Court ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tuesday to close a loophole that has allowed hazardous substances released into the environment by concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) to go unreported.

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Waterkeeper Alliance and 13 North Carolina Riverkeeper organizations have launched a new video campaign that captures the struggle of community members living with the impacts of industrial farm pollution.

The True Cost of Industrial Meat Production raises awareness of environmental injustices being perpetrated against North Carolina's most vulnerable populations and features powerful, first-hand accounts of community members, esteemed scientific experts and local people on the ground. This campaign shows the devastating impacts to public health, quality of life and local waterways caused by industrial animal agriculture.

The campaign is comprised of nine short videos:

  • Wasting Away: Highlights the problem of industrial animal waste and how the pork industry is not being held accountable to dispose of it correctly.
  • Belly Up: How waste generated by industrial meat production is decimating North Carolina's waterways and in turn, killing its fish and ecosystems.
  • Birthright: Community members whose families have lived on their properties for generations talk about the heritage of their land and how it has been overtaken by industrial agriculture and animal waste.
  • Prisoners: Residents discuss how they have become prisoners in their own homes due to the impacts of pollution from industrial animal production, which make it nearly impossible for them to enjoy their property.
  • Mislabeled: How the pork industry deceives consumers with its marketing tactics and labeling of its products.
  • Bullied: Duplin County resident Elsie Herring talks about how she has been intimidated and threatened by the pork industry to remain silent about the injustices she and her family faces.
  • Silenced: The pork industry intimidates by bullying and seeking to silence the people most affected by the impacts of its pollution.
  • The Value of Land: The pork industry's refusal to dispose of its waste in a regulated and more sustainable manner has decimated people's property values, making them unable to move.

This video campaign also expands on the recent landmark report and GIS initiative by Waterkeeper Alliance, North Carolina Riverkeeper organizations and Environmental Working Group that shows the location and waste outputs of more than 6,500 swine, cattle and poultry operations throughout North Carolina.

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