EASLEY ANNOUNCES LANDMARK AGREEMENT WITH LARGEST HOG PRODUCER
TO REPLACE OPEN-AIR LAGOONS IN NORTH CAROLINA
N.C. STATE UNIVERSITY TAKES LEAD ROLE IN TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Cari Hepp (919) 716-6413
Flanked by representatives of statewide environmental groups, agricultural leaders, and North Carolina State University (NCSU) Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, Attorney General Mike Easley today announced a major agreement between his office and Smithfield Foods, Inc., that will set the stage for phasing out open-air hog lagoons and sprayfields in North Carolina. The agreement places NCSU, the leading agribusiness institution in the world, in the pivotal role of coordinating the development and identification of environmentally superior technology for waste disposal.
Easley and Smithfield Foods, Inc., and its subsidiaries, the largest hog producing and pork processing companies in the world, have agreed to a legally binding agreement to develop and implement new technology that will protect the environment and the economy. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will be required to pay $15 million to NCSU for the development of new technologies and $50 million toward environmental improvements and compliance monitoring. Violations of the agreement will be enforceable through the courts.
"When we began negotiations on this late last year, the goal of phasing out lagoons seemed a nearly impossible task," said Easley. "But I am here today to tell you that we have found a solution that will take us one giant step forward. It is a solution that will protect the environment without sacrificing the farmer or the economy. Industry leaders have agreed to fund the development of new technology to replace current lagoon systems. More importantly, they have agreed to implement this technology on their farms immediately."
"The Smithfield companies have come forward and agreed to do the right thing. We intend to develop this technology together and have it become the national industry standard. I fully expect other companies will join in this effort."
The agreement announced today is between Easley and Smithfield Food, Inc. and its subsidiaries: Brown's of Carolina, Inc., Carroll's Foods, Inc., Murphy Family Farms, Inc., Carroll's Foods of Virginia, Inc., and Quarter M Farms, Inc. Smithfield's farms and its integrated farms represent approximately 70% of North Carolina's hog industry.
"We hope this will be just the first of many agreements between the state and the major players in the industry," said Easley. "We are talking with other companies. I hope to have similar agreements that will protect our environment, protect our economy and pave the way for phasing out lagoons and sprayfields across the entire State."
Easley and his staff began discussions with industry representatives and environmental leaders following the widespread problems that plagued the industry in the wake of Hurricane Floyd.
"It is clear that North Carolina needs a long term solution to this problem," Easley said. "Otherwise the viability of the industry is in jeopardy."
"After the hurricane, I contacted Smithfield and began talks. Since then, we have all been working hard to devise innovative and workable solutions that will protect and preserve North Carolina's environment and protect the long term interests of the farmers. This industry is an important cog in the State's economic machinery. This agreement aims to solve what some had seen as competing interests -- rural economic development and a clean and safe environment. It is proof that North Carolina can prosper while making sure that our air and water are clean."
"We do not have to choose between a clean environment and a healthy economy. We must have both and this agreement proves that we can have both."
The agreement includes a $15 million payment to NCSU by Smithfield and its subsidiaries to develop environmentally superior waste disposal technologies. Researchers at NCSU will lead the process of evaluating and developing new technologies for treating waste and determining their feasibility for the North Carolina hog industry. Once a technology is developed and identified as technically and environmentally sound by the university, the companies will be required to implement it. The agreement contemplates a research and development effort to begin immediately and not exceed two years. The conversion process will not exceed three years.
In addition, the agreement guarantees a $50 million payment by the companies to improve the environment. The companies will also identify company farms in floodplains and ensure that they are not at risk of flood, identify at-risk farms and remove the risk, identify wetlands and implement plans for their protection, identify and close abandoned lagoons, and adopt accredited environmental management systems. The companies have also agreed to play a leadership role in the comprehensive improvement of water quality in Eastern North Carolina.
with Smithfield Foods, Inc., Brown's of Carolina, Inc., Carroll's Foods, Inc, Murphy Family Farms, Inc., Carroll's Foods of Virginia, Inc., and Quarter M Farms, Inc.
DEVELOPING NEW TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY
* $15 MILLION FOR NEW TECHNOLOGY
Companies will pay $15 million to North Carolina State University (NCSU) to develop new technologies to replace open air lagoon and sprayfield systems.
* BEGIN TESTING NEW TECHNOLOGIES IMMEDIATELY
Experts at NCSU will identify, develop and test environmentally superior technologies. Five full scale projects will begin immediately with more to follow within 6 months. Completion date: not to exceed 2 years.
* IMPLEMENT NEW TECHNOLOGIES WITHIN 36 MONTHS OF DEVELOPMENT
Once new technologies are identified, companies will convert their facilities and phase out the current lagoons and sprayfield systems.
* PROVIDE TECHNICAL AND FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO FARMERS
Smithfield will provide the technical and financial assistance needed for their contract farmers to convert to the new technology.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
* PAY $50 MILLION TO IMPROVE ENVIRONMENT
Companies will pay $50 million to enhance the environment. (Examples include protecting wetlands and obtaining environmental easements.) Up to $2 million may be used to implement and monitor compliance with the agreement.
* TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT
Under the Attorney General's oversight, companies will take the following steps:
* Identify farm lagoons and buildings in flood plains and draw up and
implement steps to protect the waters of the state
* COOPERATE WITH A.G.'S OFFICE TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH ALL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
* TAKE LEADERSHIP ROLE IN ALBEMARLE-PAMLICO ESTUARY PROGRAM
Companies will play a leadership role in enhancing effectiveness of Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Program and help establish a permanent program to protect water quality in Eastern North Carolina.
EFFECT OF AGREEMENT
The agreement is a legally binding contract. Violations of the agreement are enforceable through the courts.
The Attorney General will seek similar agreements with other hog companies.
North Carolina Department of Justice
© 1999 State of North Carolina