EDF statement from Maggie Monast, Senior Manager for Agricultural Sustainability
North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality is currently reporting that at least 43 hog manure lagoons are inundated with floodwater, actively overflowing or facing structural breaches. Many farms remain inaccessible, and these numbers are likely to grow until floodwaters recede later this week.
“Hurricane Florence has been devastating for farmers, their neighbors and water quality, and the effects of this flooding will be felt for a long time.
“Flooded hog farms bring back traumatic memories for North Carolinians who experienced Hurricane Floyd and Hurricane Matthew. Solutions exist to break this cycle, but North Carolina and the hog industry must commit to implementing them. Farmers can’t fix this on their own.
“The public and private sectors must fully fund the oversubscribed buyout program that closes manure lagoons in high-risk floodplains. They must also increase investments in lagoon covers and advanced manure management technologies like manure digesters, which have the additional benefits of generating revenue for farmers, creating jobs in rural areas, and reducing the impacts of manure on public health and water quality.
“Unfortunately, hurricanes like Florence and other heavy rain events are becoming the new normal. The state and hog industry have made progress reducing flood risk during the last twenty years, but there’s much more we can do. Recovery from this disaster must include support for communities and farmers to put resilient systems in place.”
Maggie Monast is Senior Manager for Agricultural Sustainability at Environmental Defense Fund