Monday Numbers: NC's CAFO nightmare is getting worse

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Complaints about the handling of animal wastes are on the rise:

Stench and flies. Noise and traffic. Waste flowing into waterways. Manure-infused spray. Complaints about industrialized livestock farms prompted the NC Department of Environmental Quality to inspect those facilities at the second-highest rate in 10 years, according to a report recently submitted to the legislative Environment Review Commission.

From June 30, 2018, to July 1, 2019, 8.3% – or 215 – of the 2,571 state inspections were driven by complaints. In the the previous fiscal year, the rate was 9.4%, the highest in at least a decade. In 2016, only eight-tenths of 1% of DEQ inspections were the result of complaints: Just 19 of 2,237 total inspections.

And again the "property rights" crowd from NC's faux-Libertarian "think-tanks" are either silent or on the wrong side. There is simply no justification for one neighbor to spray shit on another neighbor, but it happens daily. Imagine if that were a suburban or urban neighborhood, and the sheer outrage that would ensue. Oh, you want to have a cookout or garden party in the back yard? Here's a little airborne gift for you. That contradiction goes to the core of environmental justice issues across the state, and has been that way since the birth of our nation. And hog farms make up the bulk of those operations:

Oversight in those four counties is even more lax. Until 2012, Soil and Water Conservation staff conducted routine compliance inspections of all permitted livestock operations. Soil and Water staff still can refer farms to DEQ for further investigation and enforcement, but a state law passed in 2011 removed the requirement for the Soil and Water Division to inspect each livestock operation annually in the pilot counties, all of which are prone to flooding, hurricane damage and subsequent pollution from animal waste.

2,167 – Number of livestock operations with general permits, including swine, cattle, and “wet” poultry*

2,092 – Number that are swine operations

168 – Number that are cattle

19 – Number that are wet poultry.

If you doubt that number, do a Google Earth search of those counties and see for yourself. Those hog farms are everywhere, many snuggled up next to small housing developments. And before you ask about zoning, it literally doesn't exist in unincorporated areas. YOYO- you're on your own.

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Hat-tip to Lisa Sorg

for compiling these numbers, and her tireless work on environmental issues.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation

I forgot I need to periodically explain that acronym, which I'm pretty sure was created by a PR dude to make it sound somewhat humanitarian...