Target: Pat McCrory, Governor of North Carolina
Goal: Push for greater enforcement of waste control regulations on hog farms
The second largest pork producer in the United States, North Carolina, is home to 8.9 million hogs, almost as many as the state’s 9.8 million human residents. But with this enormous population of pigs comes an equally large output of waste, which creates serious problems for local communities. These communities suffer from poor air quality and contaminated water. In 1999, the latter of these issues caught national attention when Hurricane Floyd caused waste-containing ponds to overflow into local water supplies, bringing in germs and excess nutrients. Aside from spreading a terrible stench throughout neighboring communities, pig waste also contains the greenhouse gas methane and chemicals that can cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system as well as elevated blood pressure. So far the state of North Carolina has spent $17.8 million on research of waste management solutions, but the problem still persists.
Part of the current dilemma can be traced to the rise of industrial agriculture in the 1980s and the consolidation of smaller farms into larger establishments. Before then, most farmers raised pigs on small lots and used the animals’ manure to fertilize their crops. Today, the conventional method for waste management involves channeling pig feces and urine into a lagoon hooked up to a spray system, which distributes liquid manure over fields after bacteria work to colonize it. The problem is a pervasive lack of enforcement of current restrictions in place to prevent another disaster like Hurricane Floyd. According to a feature article in National Geographic News, a shortage of inspectors allows illegal and damaging practices like spraying manure onto standing water to continue.
By signing the petition below, you can urge the state government to strengthen enforcement of regulations regarding waste management for the well-being of both North Carolina’s human communities and the pigs they raise.
Dear Governor McCrory,
I am writing in regards to North Carolina’s challenges in managing waste from the state’s multitude of hog farms. As the second largest producer of pork in the U.S., your state has invested financial resources and manpower to find solutions to the mounting waste threatening to pollute the air and contaminate local water supplies. Yet, a shortage of inspectors to enforce current waste management regulations remains a noticeable obstacle to progress.
I urge you to consider the potential risks to community health should illegal and destructive waste management practices be allowed to continue. I also encourage you to see the potential fixes that if deployed readily, could make a positive impact. Your actions are crucial to both the health and well-being of your state’s residents and the sustainability of a major economic asset.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: U.S. Geological Survey via Wikimedia Commons