Today the national consumer advocacy group Food &Water Watch unveiled the newest version of its pioneering Factory FarmMap (www.factoryfarmmap.org), which reveals a significant uptick in thenumber of animals raised in factory farms throughout the state.According to the map, livestock in North Carolina has increased by 9.8percent from nearly 1.2 million units in 2002 to 1.3 million livestock
units in 2007. It also reveals that the number of factory-farmed broiler chickens in the state more than doubled from 34.7 million in 1997 to 79.7 million in 2007.
The interactive map charts the concentration of factory farms in North Carolina and across the country, and gauges the impact these massive operations have on human health, communities and the environment. It also illustrates the geographic shift in where and how food is raised in the U.S. and allows users to quickly search for the highest concentration of animals by region, state and county.
According to the map, North Carolina has seen a 6.2 percent increase in the number of factory farmed hogs despite the state's 1997 moratorium on building new CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). With Duplin and Sampson counties leading the way, North Carolina ranks sixth in the nation for the number of livestock units raised and second in the nation for the number of hogs raised.
Factory farms in North Carolina house 79.7 million broiler chickens, 10 million hogs, 3.9 million egg-laying hens, 13,700 dairy cows and 3,800 beef cattle which produce as much untreated waste as 207 million people. Managing such a large number of animals and their manure has become a challenge, especially in a state that has asked factory farm owners to voluntarily comply new safety and environmental guidelines for animal waste management.
While no new CAFOs were built between 1997 and 2007, average-sized factory farms in North Carolina are large and in many cases getting larger. By 2007, the more than 10 million hogs on factory farms in North Carolina were on operations that averaged 6,276 hogs each. Average-sized poultry operations ballooned. Broiler operations increased 20 percent from 126,317 in 1997 to 152,256 in 2007 and layer
operations nearly doubled from 249,825 hens in 1997 to 491,527 in 2007.
This reality concerns some policy experts, who fear that the expansion of factory farms in the state threaten the livelihoods of small farmers, who are forced to "get big or get out."
"It is not enough to ask for voluntary compliance regarding standards meant to address the hog industry's problematic past," says Food & Water Watch Southern Region Director Jorge Aguilar. "It is evident that factory farms keep expanding in North Carolina and the new state general assembly needs to ensure that mandatory reform for these CAFO's reduce the risks to public and environmental health."
The Government Accountability Office reported that the five largest hog producing counties in North Carolina housed 7.5 million hogs that could have produced 31 billion pounds of manure in 2002. The nearly 812,000 hogs on factory farms in Bladen County, North Carolina produce as much untreated manure as the sewage from the Chicago and Atlanta metro areas combined.
When factory farms produce this much waste, they typically store the manure in lagoons, which can leak or overflow, threatening public health and the environment. In 2010, a Columbus County, North Carolina federal grand jury indicted a hog farmer for illegally discharging manure into a tributary of the Waccamaw River where 332,000 gallons of hog waste entered a local creek.
Food & Water Watch also released a companion report, Factory Farm Nation, which explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production. The report also examines the causes for industrial-scale livestock and the demise of small and medium farms.The Factory Farm Map and the companion report can be found at
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume
is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in
what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food
comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to
our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force
government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the
importance of keeping shared resources under public control.