The North Carolina House of Representatives voted to extend the moratorium on the construction or expansion of large pork operations until July 2003. Although this move didn’t satisfy the state’s environmental groups, which claim the legislation doesn’t solve current water and air pollution problems.

These groups want the legislature to adopt higher environmental standards and to mandate that all pork operations adopt environmental technologies by 2005. Specifically, the environmentalists want to get rid of all lagoons on pork operations.

Last year, Smithfield Foods and its subsidiaries agreed to replace existing lagoons with environmentally superior alternatives on its more than 250 company-owned farms by 2005. This bill doesn’t change the manure management standards for existing operations.

The legislature first enacted the moratorium in 1997 to allow time for the development of more protective alternative waste technologies for North Carolina's more than 2,500 pork operations.