“Over two decades alone, North Carolina’s swine population has nearly doubled, from 5.1 million in 1992 to 9.5 million by 2012, according to the USDA Census of Agriculture. During the same period, the state’s broiler chicken production increased by 60 million, to 148 million animals (EWG 2016).”
Raising more animals in the state isn’t necessarily a problem. With regards to the state’s water resources, however, the volume of waste from all those animals can be a challenge to dispose of.
A portion of the facilities that handle these animals are subject to inspection from the State’s Department of Environmental Quality. The majority of chicken producers, however, are not because their waste is dry and assumed compliant with environmental protection laws.
Is it a safe assumption? Like anything else in society, there are bad actors. In 2014, Feedman Farm’s was found guilty of dumping hog waste into North Carolina waters.
The State’s struggle to show progress in reducing nutrient pollution has dogged the Division of Water Resources. With this EWG study, it’s clear that the grind to bring down pollution of waterways is complicated by the waste produced from larger, more numerous farms.