OKLAHOMA CITY - Senator Paul Muegge, D-Tonkawa, is again urging Oklahoma officials to take a closer look at the second of recent agreements on hog farms and the environment reached by government and industry officials in North Carolina.
The agreement mirrors the agreement reached this past summer between the Attorney General of North Carolina and Virginia-based Smithfield Foods. The most recent agreement was forged this month by the Attorney General and Kansas City-based Premium Standard Foods to develop a replacement for the open waste pits and spray fields currently used in the industry.
"North Carolina has set a good example that deserves attention. They have been successful in partnering with two of the biggest producers to make a positive impact on the way hog waste is managed," said Senator Muegge. "Oklahoma has a great opportunity to learn from this situation."
Senator Muegge met this summer with officials from the State Department of Agriculture and the EPA to look at solutions to the serious problems created by the corporate hog farms, and find ways to protect the environment from waste-streams.
"This opportunity provides both the state and the producers the chance to demonstrate their commitment to fostering good environmental practices," explained Senator Muegge. "This should serve as a wake-up call to other states, including Oklahoma, as to the positive effects of such an agreement."
As part of the agreement, the two producers and their subsidiaries, which together make up some of the largest hog producing and pork processing companies, will develop and implement new technology that will protect both the environment and the economy. The companies will pay $17.5 million to North Carolina State University for the development of new technologies and more than $50 million toward environmental improvements and for compliance monitoring. This agreement is considered legally binding, and any violations will be addressed through the courts.
"On the one hand we want to promote economic development and job creation, but at the same time we're obligated to protect our air and water," said Senator Muegge. "It is my sincere hope that state officials will take a serious look at what is being done in North Carolina. In a few years, we may find North Carolina's carefully constructed partnerships were crucial in laying the groundwork in other states in their efforts to deal with these environmental and economic issues, including right here in Oklahoma."