RALEIGH — The N.C. Pork Council announced last week that its board of directors voted unanimously to support re-establishing a voluntary floodplain conservation program. The pork industry has supported previous conservation efforts to reduce the risk of flooding on farms and has been in discussions with the N.C. Department of Agriculture about reviving the program since last fall. Those discussions have included identifying potential funding sources to acquire conservation easements on 15-20 hog farms located in the flood-prone areas.
“We are continually looking for ways to help proactively protect our state’s waterways, especially during hurricanes and other severe weather events,” said Andy Curliss, CEO of the N.C. Pork Council. “The pork industry supports efforts to re-establish a voluntary conservation program involving hog farms located in flood-prone areas and we will continue to work with the N.C. Department of Agriculture to encourage funding for this program.”
The North Carolina pork industry weathered the historic flooding of Hurricane Matthew with relatively minimal damage, thanks in part to a conservation program launched in 1999 following a trio of hurricanes hit the state. While more than 99.5 percent of hog lagoons were not impacted by flooding from Hurricane Matthew, municipal wastewater systems spilled more than 100 million gallons of untreated waste, with 62.8 million gallons reaching the state’s waterways.
“Hurricanes pose tremendous challenges for all types of businesses, but Hurricane Matthew showed that our previous efforts to reduce flooding have worked,” said Mark Daughtry, president of the N.C. Pork Council board of directors. “We support efforts to work with farms in flood-prone areas to reduce the potential for flooding.”
Since 2000, North Carolina has acquired easements on 42 hog farms and closed 103 lagoons located in the floodplain through a program administered by the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Land within the easements can no longer be used as feedlots, for an animal waste-management systems or as sprayfields for liquid fertilizer. The land may be used for growing row crops, planting trees and other low-intensity agriculture activities.
The N.C. Pork Council resolution reads:
The North Carolina Pork Council Board of Directors, in keeping with previous directives issued by the board and by its Public Policy Committee in 2016 and 2017, endorses action to secure funding for the benefit of re-establishing a voluntary floodplain conservation program. The board’s objective is to ensure the successful voluntary conservation, as necessary and feasible, of swine lagoon operations that are in identifiably flood-prone locations.
About the N.C. Pork Council
The N.C. Pork Council supports and promotes the state’s pork industry. North Carolina is the nation’s second leading pork producer, with more than 2,100 permitted hog farms that raise 8.8 million hogs annually. Pork is one of the North Carolina’s largest and most important agricultural industries, contributing $11 billion a year to the state’s economy. Learn more at www.ncpork.org.