North Carolina is the second-largest hog producing state in the United States. Thus, disposal of hog waste is a constant concern and contentious issue. In a new paper, Kelly Lester of the John Locke Foundation describes what has failed and what might work.
- “Regulatory Overreach. Government regulations, rather than addressing the root of the problem, have contributed to the persistence of the open-pit lagoon system. . . .
- Insufficient Protection of Property Rights. Instead of relying on the tort system and allowing affected individuals to seek redress for actionable harms from hog farm operations against their property or well-being, the state has imposed caps on damages bounded by the assessed fair market value of the affected property. . . .
- Discouraging and Preventing Market Solutions. The government has largely ignored the potential for market-driven solutions in hog waste management. The state even went so far as to impose a permanent moratorium on new and expanding hog farms, despite the industry’s significance to North Carolina’s economy. . . .”
- “Closed Loop Systems. Closed-loop systems eliminate the need for open pits, thus reducing the risk of spills and contamination. . . . Smithfield Foods, for example, has taken steps to adopt this system and demonstrate that it is both feasible and environmentally beneficial.
- Wetland Systems. Another potential solution for treating hog waste utilizes wetlands. In this approach, waste is processed through wetland vegetation, which can naturally absorb nutrients and contaminants, reducing the environmental impact of hog waste. . . .
- Waste-to-Energy Technologies. Technology-based solutions, such as waste-to-energy systems, can convert hog waste into valuable resources, such as biogas and electricity. This approach reduces the environmental footprint of waste and offers a path towards sustainable energy production.”
- Fertilizing the Forests. Another idea would use excess hog waste from lagoons to fertilize forest areas that need new growth.”
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