Hog Lagoon Phase-Out Nearing Final Approval

The General Assembly has neared final approval of a phase-out of waste lagoons used by hog farmers.

The measure would replace them with more environmentally friendly systems paid for in part by taxpayer-funded grants.

By a 108-to-zero vote, the House agreed tonight to a Senate bill that would let a decade-old moratorium on new lagoons expire. Current lagoons, which collect swine waste until it's sprayed on fields, could continue to operate. However, the regulatory bar would be set too high to allow any new ones to be built.

Hog farms that are ready to replace aging lagoons would have to convert to a waste management system that meets strict environmental standards. A cost-sharing grant program also would help the first farms to install the expensive new systems.

The legislation now returns to the Senate.