Hats off to the hog industry in North Carolina. Legislation there will phase-out open hog manure lagoons. While this will be expensive, by sitting down together, hog producers will be able to get up to 90% of the cost picked up by government, and one of the biggest impediments to maintaining our hog industry will be diminished.
In 2000, pork butchers Smithfield Foods Inc. and Premium Standard Farms Inc. agreed to pay $17.3 million for research on new ways to handle the waste. Last year, researchers at North Carolina State University offered five alternatives that did reduce ammonia and pathogen emissions but were up to five times more expensive than a lagoon system.
The new legislation creates a cost-sharing program for farms that agree to convert to the new technologies. For the next five years, the state will cover 90 percent of the cost, or up to $500,000 for each applicant. The state share drops to 80 percent in 2012 and to 75 percent in 2017.
The hope is that the cost will drop as the systems are improved and demand for them grows.
Justice said she has fielded numerous calls already from farmers interested in the program and companies that believe they can develop still more systems that will meet the new standards.
"The market is wide open," she said. "(Farmers) are ready to go." [More]
If other states don't use this as a template, I will be very surprised.
Well done, indeed. Our current methods of manure handling border on indefensible.