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I don’t know about you, but I can eat bacon for breakfast every day for months before desiring a change of taste. Think of ham steaks, ham sandwiches, ham salad, or mmmm, pork chops. Who doesn’t enjoy some bacon bits crumbled over a fresh salad? How about a succulent and delicious pork tenderloin cooked on your outdoor grill? Why all this talk about the mouth-watering pork products we love? Recently we have seen a number of pork farmers come under attack by environmental activists and plaintiff’s lawyers looking for a big pay day (for themselves) at the expense of family farmers. Our friends in the pork farming business tell us that these attacks are unjustified and based on misleading or outright false accusations.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Division of Water Resources has enforced the Federal Clean Water Act in this state since 1972, by strictly regulating the methods of managing animal manure on pork farms to ensure that ground water and surface water are not contaminated.

The Waterkeeper Alliance, a national activist group, based in New York, has filed a complaint with the EPA alleging that our state’s regulatory agency (DENR) and its regulatory process is discriminatory toward minority communities. The Waterkeeper Alliance has also recently launched an anti-hog farming billboard campaign along highways in the eastern part of the state.

On April 22, 2015 more than 1,200 pork farmers and their families presented themselves at the Duplin County Events Center to listen to an update about the legal and media attacks against the industry. At that meeting, one area farmer said that his family has spent $30,000 a month in legal fees to prove that their farm operates within the guidelines set forth by the EPA. “You have to spend your hard-earned money to prove you’re innocent”, commented Jason Taylor. http://www.ncfarmfamilies.com/news

“Many members of the public do not know that hog farms in North Carolina are required to have very strict environmental permits and that each permitted farm is inspected at least once annually by the state. If deficiencies or violations of the permit conditions are identified they must be addressed and corrected and the farmer is subject to strong enforcement action if their permit requirements are not met. Hog farmers take great pride in running clean and legally compliant farms. After all, the farmers and their families are the ones with the most at stake in their operations and they want to protect their farms and the environment”, said Don Butler, of Smithfield Foods.

What’s a hog farmer to do? Everyone is concerned about clean water, particularly the farmers, but there is much more to the story. Statistics show that families own 80% of all NC Hog Farms. These are families who work every day to ensure the well-being of their animals, produce safe nutritious food, protect the environment and be good neighbors.

Here are a few important statistics about North Carolina and farming. Agriculture and agribusiness is by far the largest single component of the North Carolina economy with a total economic impact of over $72 BILLION in 2014. (This figure includes crops as well as meat production)

Pork production in NC has a total economic impact of $9 billion, and generates millions of dollars in tax revenue. North Carolina houses nearly 14% of all the pigs in the nation, making us second only to Iowa, in hog farming. NC employs more than 46,000 people throughout the pork production, processing, and distribution chain. Those are jobs that North Carolina needs and depends on to put food on many tables.

Over the last 50 years or so, the population of the USA has increased from 180.7 million in 1960, to 324.8 million in 2015, and in order to feed this expanding population, farmers must become ever more productive and efficient. During that same period, many advances in technology have been developed in the agricultural industry, and necessary expansions have occurred.

“The overwhelming majority of NC hog farmers are caring, responsible environmental stewards who do the right thing every day to follow the law and be good neighbors. It is a shame that New York based activist groups like the Waterkeeper Alliance have launched a campaign to put NC family hog farmers out of business”, commented Butler.

If you enjoy bacon, ham, pork chops and sausage like I do and want these wholesome delicious pork products to be available for your families in the future you should pay attention to the fact that our farmers are under attack and, the next time you see a farmer, say THANK YOU!

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