Front Line Farmers and Save Our State announced today a partnership to seek new hog manure treatment systems. This unprecedented new partnership between farmers and conservationists is designed to address concerns associated with current hog manure treatment practices. Front Line Farmers represents independent and contract farmers in North Carolina. Save Our State is a statewide nonprofit group that promotes sustainable economic growth and natural resource conservation.

"As farmers, we want to be good stewards of the land and good neighbors," says Bill Nobles, FLF president. "Our current manure treatment systems– lagoons and sprayfields– were mandated by the legislature in 1993. Many citizens continue to be concerned about their effectiveness at minimizing water pollution and odor."

"Front Line Farmers are small businesspeople, many of whom are struggling under large amounts of debt that they took on in order to install lagoon and sprayfield systems, who are willing to try other approaches," explains Alan Briggs, SOS president. "Our partnership with Front Line Farmers will allow us to construct and test alternative hog manure treatment technologies that are better for the environment, but also will allow these farmers to continue farming."

Both organizations are participating in and encouraging the Smithfield Agreement but want to pursue efforts to supplement that process. The Smithfield Agreement is a contract developed in 2000 between Smithfield Foods, Premium Standard Farms and the State of North Carolina to study alternative hog manure treatment technologies. The agreement covers slightly more than 10 percent of North Carolina's roughly 2,400 hog farms, but none of the farms represented by Front Line Farmers.

"We believe that the private sector needs to step up and be part of the solution," says Briggs. "These farmers are willing to change systems but deserve to be part of the decision about what those technologies are."

Nobles adds, "What may work for some farms may not be feasible for all. We need to be sure that any new systems are practical, effective and affordable. We are willing to switch to environmentally superior systems that work and find solutions that everyone can support."

Over the next year, the two organizations will identify alternative hog manure treatment systems that are not being reviewed as part of the Smithfield Agreement. They also will seek the funding needed to evaluate the effectiveness of the alternative systems.

Save Our State and Front Line Farmers