CoastLine Series: Pork & Poultry Industry in Southeastern North Carolina
Every Wednesday throughout the month of May, we’re taking a close-up look at the pork and poultry industries in southeastern North Carolina. It’s our first ever CoastLine series, and we're focusing on CAFOs – concentrated animal feeding operations. What’s the economic impact? How is it regulated? And how does it affect nearby residents?
April 27th: Hog Industry -- Issues & Economic Impacts
North Carolina is the second largest pork producer in the United States. Hog farming in the state is largely concentrated in the southeastern region – which includes Duplin, Wayne, and Pender counties and part of Sampson County. According to the 2012 U.S. Agriculture Census, North Carolina sold nearly $3 billion in pork products that year; of that, Duplin County was responsible for north of $600 million and Sampson County came in second in pork sales with more than $500 million. Looking beyond sales to the industry as a whole, the North Carolina Pork Council puts the economic impact at $11 billion.
But it’s a complicated industry. And it’s currently the focus of a complaint filed with the Environmental Protection Agency against the state agency that regulates hog farming -- what is now North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality.
- Ed Emory is President of NC Farm Families.
- Elizabeth Haddix is a Senior Staff Attorney with the UNC Center for Civil Rights at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
May 4th: Water & Air Quality / Human Health
The business of pork production in North Carolina employed nearly 13,000 people in 2012. That’s according to a Duke University report. The swine industry is a key component of North Carolina’s economy. But there are claims of negative impacts on the environment – specifically on bodies of waters that are in close proximity to concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. And there are questions about the industry’s impact on human health.
But the business of hog farming has evolved over the last several decades.
- Cindy Watson served two terms as the North Carolina Representative for District 10, which, at the time, included parts of Duplin, Jones, and Onslow Counties. During those years, 1994 – 1998, Cindy Watson co-sponsored legislation that would institute a moratorium on new pork production operations and phase out the lagoons that are part of the hog production construct. In 2004, she won the John F. Kennedy Profiles In Courage Award for getting that legislation passed in the face of fierce opposition.
- Kraig Westerbeek is the Vice President of Environmental and Engineering for Smithfield Hog Production Group.
- Michael Mallin is a Research Professor at the Center for Marine Sciences at the University of North Carolina - Wilmington.
- William Showers is a professor with North Carolina State University's Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. He's also the Chief Scientist at GeoSolutions, LLC.
May 11th: Hog Breeding, Growing, and Welfare
North Carolina is the second-largest pork producer in the United States. The importance of the industry to the state’s economy – and by extension to the thousands of people whose livelihood it supports – is undeniable. This is the third edition of CoastLine in our series on hog farming in the state. In each episode, we’ve narrowed the focus to one aspect of hog production. We’ve looked at the economics of it as well as questions around environmental justice. We’ve explored why some scientists say Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations – or CAFOs – negatively impact water quality. And in those earlier discussions, we’ve heard from listeners wanting to know – and talk about how the animals are bred, raised, and treated.
So today our focus shifts to animal welfare – or animal well-being. As we’re about to learn, those two terms are not necessarily interchangeable. Here to help us navigate the world of CAFOs from the point of view of the hogs – are three experts.
- Janet Archer is the Vice President of the National Pork Board. She’s also a hog grower in North Carolina, and she runs a consulting company that trains and certifies other growers.
- Ashley DeDecker is the Director of Production Research for Smithfield’s Hog Production Division.
- Nadia Taha is Investigations Editor for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – or PETA.
May 18th: Hog Waste Alternatives
North Carolina is host to more than 9 million hogs. According to the North Carolina Pork Council, the industry generates about $11 billion a year and supports about 46,000 full-time jobs.
But as we’ve spent the last several editions of CoastLine exploring, not everybody is happy about the industry. There are questions around environmental justice, impacts to water quality, concerns regarding human health for those who live in close proximity to large hog farms. And animal rights advocates say Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations use inhumane practices.
This week’s focus is on alternative uses for hog waste – one of the largest sources of contention surrounding the industry.
- Don Butler is the Director of Corporate Affairs for Smithfield Foods, Inc.
- John Classen is an Associate Professor at North Carolina State University. He's also the Director of Graduate Programs in Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
- Randy Wheeless is a spokesman for Duke Energy.
May 25th: Poultry Industry
Broilers, fryers, roasters, turkey, chicken – and eggs – those are the products of the poultry industry in North Carolina. The Poultry Federation claims that it contributes more than $34 billion to North Carolina’s economy. Statistics from the North Carolina Poultry Jubilee are a bit more moderate: they claim an economic impact to the state of $12.8 billion. They don’t disagree so much, however, on the number of jobs this business creates: between 109,000 and 110,000 people make their living bringing birds and eggs to the table.
This edition of CoastLine is the final installment in our series on concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. Over the previous four weeks, we’ve focused on specific elements of hog farming. Today, we shift the focus to poultry CAFOs. These farming operations are also a source of concern for environmental advocates.
On this edition, we learn about how large poultry operations function from two contract growers – one current and one former. And we’ll hear why environmentalists worry the growth of this industry degrades local water quality.
- David Anderson is the former vice president of live production for both Perdue Farms and Butterball. Anderson is also the past president of the Poultry Federation.
- Craig Watts is a former poultry farmer who once contracted with Perdue Farms. He had a highly publicized disagreement with Perdue over his decision to let an animal advocacy group take pictures inside his farming operation. He has since ended his relationship with Perdue.
- John Carter is a current poultry farmer who is a contractor with Perdue.
- Kemp Burdette is the Cape Fear Riverkeeper.