US hog farm requirements challenged
North Carolina, the US's second largest hog producing
state behind Iowa, could rebuild after a natural disaster or change operations
without having to follow decade-old distance requirements from homes or schools
in legislation approved by a Senate committee.
Swine houses built before the mid-1990s are exempt from buffer
requirements, approved in landmark hog legislation in 1996 after some
high-profile animal waste spills. Now the hog industry wants to remain exempt if
new construction is performed in narrow circumstances.
Sen. Charlie Albertson, the bill's chief proponent, said the bill would
help livestock operations effected by the skyrocketing cost of feed and fuel,
and a glut in the number of sows.
The current law requires swine houses built before July 1995 to stay at
least 2,500 feet from schools, 1,500 feet from any residence and 500 feet from
any property boundary.
The measure won't change current restrictions on hog lagoons or allow
farmers to expand the number of head of livestock on individual farms.
setback exception also would apply when the farmer wants to adapt the swine
house to a different operation, such as from raising sows to keeping older pigs
before they are taken to market.
Other swine houses need more room for pregnant sows, which historically
have been kept in stalls or crates, which animal rights activists have
criticised as inhumane. Extending the exception would give older farmers the
right to re-build indefinitely and take neighbours out of the approval process,
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