Earlier this week, the North Carolina Senate passed a bill that would alter 1995 set-back requirements for pork production facilities. The new bill would reverse a restriction on the siting of hog farm facilities, allowing pork producers to rebuild hog houses without neighbors' consent. The legislature applied the restriction in 1995 because a buildup of hog facilities in Eastern North Carolina resulted in odors that many residents said ruined their quality of life.

Opponents claim the bill was rushed though a Senate committee without sufficient opportunity for the public to comment.

The bill now goes to the North Carolina House. Among other measures, H 822 would bypass the requirement that hog producers must have the consent of neighboring property owners or a new permit before fundamentally changing the nature of their hog operation.

The proposed change would allow farmers to rebuild facilities that burned down, or were otherwise destroyed by acts of God, without getting neighbors' permission, as the old law required. It also allows farmers to convert hog houses with stalls to gestation pens in order to give sows more room to move about.

"This bill fails to respect the rights and health and well being of citizens living close to hog farms,” says Joe Rudek, senior scientist with Environmental Defense Fund. “The public should have the same opportunity as pork producers and senators to study this bill and comment on the implications for rural communities. This bill will create a loophole that will perpetuate outmoded ways of hog farming on the oldest hog farms, rather than transitioning swine production facilities to technologies more protective of public health."

Sources: ThePigSite.com and The Charlotte Observer