Rules banning waste ponds on new and expanded hog farms and setting higher standards for alternative waste disposal systems take effect today.
The ban, approved by the legislature in 2007, culminates more than 10 years of efforts to find more environmentally friendly waste-disposal technology for industrial hog farms.
But it won't have much immediate effect, hog industry representatives and environmentalists say, because swine producers aren't expanding their farms or building new ones because of economic conditions. Existing farms aren't affected unless they expand. "The rules really are not going to have any impact on us for the next 12 to 18 months," said George Pettus, president of the N.C. Pork Council and environmental manager of Maxwell Foods of Goldsboro, a swine and turkey producer. "Nobody is going to be doing any expansion on new farms or expansion of existing farms. We're just in survival mode."
North Carolina is second only to Iowa in U.S. hog production, with an estimated 9.6 million swine on more than 2,200 farms, most of them in Eastern North Carolina. With the economic downturn, the number of hogs in the state is down about 6 percent from a year ago.