(Steve Marbury) "Anti-corporate farming activists have the
smoking gun they've been looking for. On June 21, North Carolina, the
nation's second largest hog-producing state, registered the largest
documented hog waste spill in recent history when 25 million gallons of
slurry flowed from an eight-acre lagoon into streams that feed New River,
approx. 30 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean.
...last count, 5,000 dead fish...18 month old operatipon, 1,200 sows...
...Dept. Env. Man. says "It definietl;e was not due to an act of
God..." basically the lagoon failed, was built on sandy soils, where some
had predicted problems.
Last few issues of Feedstuffs have covered prominently the Nat.
Pork Prod. Association's new environmental stewardship program, which is
going to do on-farm audits and give ribbons and bows to those practicing
"stewardship". The articles are silent on how they will deal with manure
management and situations like what occured in N.C.
I hope the ARS/USDA and other academic researchers interested in
the structure of the hog industry will come up with a simple predictive
equation for various parts of the country -- based on average growth
rates, feeds, etc, how many acres of cropland are needed to spread manure
from 100 feeders/sows etc, as a function of yield and soil P levels. The
one major problem the concentrated hog industry has not and will be
unable to solve is disposing of manure in an "agronomically sound" way,
unless one defines agronomically sound as elevating soil P levels to the
point of posing clear threat to water quality. Most big operations
depend on some liquid based irrigation system, so the area to diuspose of
manure is limited to what they can pump (hauling adds on cost very
fast). Look at places in the countryside with lots of big operations;
from a hill in Rice County, Minn. I saw 8 big sheds on different farms,
all competing for the same limited (and mostly highly erodible) cropland
for disposing manure. A soil P crisis in the making. N.C. soil P levels
are a major problem already. Ag sector keeps saying communities must
spend more to treat sewage, other sources, but the facts are slowly
emerging re the "cost-effectiveness" of P loading reduction efforts.
Gee, wonder if this is what the Repubs have in mind with reg. reform --
treating all pollution sources equally and rigorously. Umm.