It's been a decade since North Carolina banned pork farmers from building new hog waste lagoons. Since then, environmentalists and farm neighbors have complained about the smell and the danger of the open-air sewage pits. Scientists at N-C State proposed new waste treatment methods, but farmers were appalled by the prices.
But that report last year has proved a starting point for talks that may, at long last, be bringing the debate near to a close. A state lawmaker has been working with pig farmers, environmental and industry groups, and state regulators to find a way to help pork producers experiment with those new technologies by underwriting the cost.
Pender County Representative Carolyn Justice plans to introduce her bill in the coming week. It's one of three before the Legislature so far -- but the one that has the most support from stakeholders.
The ideas include ways to burn hog waste to generate electricity, or turn the solids into fertilizer. Justice says her goal is to make what comes out of the pig as valuable as the pig itself.