Smithfield announces plans to cover most hog lagoons, other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Published 11:25 am Thursday, November 1, 2018

Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest hog producer, announced several measures last week to reduce the company’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2025.

“Under the plans, Smithfield says it will install manure lagoon covers and anaerobic digesters on 90 percent of its finishing hog farms in North Carolina, Missouri and Utah within 10 years. Smithfield also plans to capture 85,000 tons of methane each year to generate renewable natural gas,” Greg Barnes reports for North Carolina Health News. Covering the lagoons will also help keep the pits from overflowing during heavy rains (as happened last month during Hurricane Florence in North Carolina). The release didn’t say whether farmers will have to pay for the lagoon covers or whether Smithfield will cover the costs.

Smithfield also said it is introducing new technologies to reduce truck traffic and miles traveled by more than 85 percent on some routes, will adopt low-trajectory sprayers to spread hog waste from the lagoons onto contract farmers’ fields, and will plant more vegetation as buffers between farms and neighbors, Barnes reports.

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The announcement “comes after people living next to Smithfield’s contract farms were awarded more than half a billion dollars this year in three nuisance lawsuits filed in North Carolina,” Barnes reports. “Neighbors complained in part that the farms smelled so bad and drew so many flies that they couldn’t go outside at times. The awards will be reduced to a fraction of that amount due to a 1995 law capping damages that companies have to pay. Smithfield plans to appeal the verdicts.

The Rural Blog is published by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.