Alliance for a Responsible
Swine Industry (A.R.S.I.)
President, Alliance for a Responsible Swine Industry
My name is Don Webb. I am from North Carolina, home of
feces & urine, the Cell from Hell (pfiesteria) and heaven for hogs, and hell for
humans. I am the president of the Alliance for a Responsible Swine Industry, an
organization that was designed to help the swine industry become responsible citizens.
Over the past few years, the eastern region of the state of North
Carolina has been inundated with large intensive corporate hog operations. These
operations have invaded our neighborhoods and our communities, forcing our people into the
bondage of feces and urine. Thousands of North Carolinians have begged for relief from the
stench of these feces and urine factories, but there has been no relief from the
devastating odors, permeating from open earthen cesspools and spray systems that saturate
surrounding fields and runoff into our public waters.
According to a report by Dr. Susan Schiffman of Duke University, nearby
residents of commercial swine operations who experience these odors have less vigor and
more tension, anger, depression, fatigue and confusion. It is obvious that odors from
these types of operations are harmful to human beings.
These factory farms force neighbors to either leave their homes or
endure the negative impacts associated with this industry. There are North Carolina
families that have made the difficult and painful decision to sell their homes at a loss
in order to regain a decent quality of life. Why should people have to leave their homes
in order for a few people to make money. In most cases the homes were there and the
operations moved in on them, in most cases without warning.
One North Carolina farmer, in order to protect his family and home from
the filth of a threatening factory farm, paid an undertaker cash money to not build an
operation near his home. Unfortunately, for most Americans, this is not an option. Most
are simply at the mercy of the conditions at the nearest operation.
Many of the operations in North Carolina are built by non-farmers such
as lawyers, commercial airplane pilots, undertakers, judges, local & state officials,
and many other professional types. These are not family farms. These are industrial
endeavors by investors, which is making money while at the same time making sharecroppers
of our true American farmers. In North Carolina the pig population rose from over 2
million in 1983 to over 9 million in 1996, while at the same time, the number of hog farms
dropped from over 22,000 in 1983 to just over 5,000 in 1996. Where have all the hog
Over the past few years it has been discovered that a number of the
cesspools that store the feces and urine at these large hog operations have been leaking
and contaminating both ground and surface waters. One North Carolina University report
estimates that as many as half existing lagoons, perhaps hundreds are leaking enough to
In 1995 the 25 million gallon spill of hog feces and urine in Onslow
county North Carolina captured world wide attention but its the daily seepage, runoff,
airborne nitrogen, over spraying of fields, and accumulation of heavy metals that can
devastate the surrounding environment. In North Carolina, plant available nitrogen from
manure equals or exceeds 100% of the crop and plant needs in 3 counties, while phosphorus
exceeds the plant needs in 7 counties. These figures do not even take into account
commercial fertilizer applications in those counties.
Public outcry prompted the state to offer citizens with property lines
adjoining hog operations free testing of their drinking water for nitrate contamination.
Dr. Kenneth Rudo, a Toxicologist with the Occupational & Environmental Epidemiology
Section, reported that of the 948 wells tested, approximately 9.4% were found to have
nitrate levels that were at or exceeded the nitrate drinking water standard of 10
with some as high as 70-100 ppm range.
Recent findings have indicated that the Center for Disease control has
data that establishes a link between high nitrate levels and stillborn births and
spontaneous abortions. High nitrate levels in drinking water have also been linked to
cancer of the esophagus and stomach. " Blue Baby Syndrome" has also been linked
to nitrate contaminated water.
North Carolina has recently passed a 2 year moratorium, but from the
supposed start of the moratorium, March 1st, until the signing of the legislation on
August 27th, the North Carolina Division of Water Quality issued 86 permits for new and
expanding hog operations for a total of over 500,000 additional hogs. These new permits
will allow the hog industry to keep growing even under the state of a moratorium, a
moratorium that in actuality ends up being only 18 months.
The recent legislation directs the NC Department of Agriculture to
develop a plan to phase out the use of the inadequate existing anaerobic lagoons and spray
field system as the primary methods of animal waste disposal.
Although the moratorium and the additional legislation does not fully
address the problems associated with the industry, it is at least a clear indication that
our public officials now understand and acknowledge, what the affected citizens of rural
North Carolina have already known, the cesspool and spray field system do not, and will
This so called, state of the art technology is stone age, cave man
mentality and it has allowed North Carolina to get into the mess it is in today. In the
summer of 1996, Dr. Bob Edwards and Dr. John Maiolo of the Department of Sociology at East
Carolina State University in Greenville North Carolina conducted a survey of 998 adult
residents in 41 eastern North Carolina counties. The results of this survey indicated that
of the participants 86% supported stricter regulations on hog farms. Participants ranked
their concern about water quality and additional hog farms higher than their concern over
higher taxes and crime.
Remember that the current method of animal waste disposal has not
worked in North Carolina. There is no reason to believe that the current method of waste
disposal will work anywhere else.