OKLAHOMA CITY - Senator Paul Muegge is urging state officials to take a close look at a recent agreement on hog farms and the environment reached by government and industry officials in North Carolina.
"We have a critical balance to maintain. On the one hand we want to promote economic development and job creation, but at the same time we've got to protect our air and water," said Senator Muegge, D-Tonkawa.
Muegge, who chairs the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy, Environmental Resources and Regulatory Services 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.
"I'm very impressed with a recent agreement reached between the state of North Carolina and Smithfield Foods that will eventually phase out open-air hog waste lagoons and land applications of the effluent," explained Senator Muegge.
Under the agreement North Carolina State University (NCSU), considered to be the leading agribusiness institution in the world, will coordinate the development and identification of environmentally superior technology for waste disposal.
As part of the agreement, Smithfield Foods, Inc., and its subsidiaries which make up the largest hog producing and pork processing companies in the world, will develop and implement new technology that will protect both the environment and the economy. The companies will pay $15 million to NCSU for the development of new technologies and $50 million toward environmental improvements and for compliance monitoring.
"This agreement is legally binding, and any violations will be addressed through the courts. It will help find solutions that will protect jobs, while phasing out lagoons. The result will be cleaner water and air, and a much better quality of life for neighboring communities," said Senator Muegge.
"While the legislature has passed measures aimed at addressing these very concerns, it seems obvious that taking a new approach and using new technologies is something we must do. It is my sincere hope that state officials will take a serious look at what is being done in North Carolina. It could well become the model nationwide for dealing with these environmental and economic issues," said Senator Muegge.