Judge cracks the whip on pork producer Murphy Brown


That simply won't do, pig:

A federal judge is telling a major pork producer to live up to an agreement it signed 11 years ago and work on cleaning up water pollution tied to almost a dozen industry-scale hog operations.

U.S. District Court Judge Malcolm Howard this week ordered Murphy-Brown LLC to end a three-year delay and have a mutually agreed consultant develop plans to fix problems at 11 sites in in Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Pitt, Sampson and Scotland counties. Environmentalists say the independent expert found groundwater contamination or waste lagoon problems at the operations.

It's as good a time as any to report on NC's current hog population (9.2 million), which of course produce a hell of a lot more waste than the 10.2 million humans residing here. It's bad, and Murphy Brown is the worst of the worst:

A recent documentary titled "What the Health" exposed Duplin County, North Carolina as home to one of the largest hog farms in the country, where hogs outnumber residents 40 to one. What’s even more alarming is the towns in which these hog farms are located are predominately lower-income and house large minority populations. 25 percent of Duplin County residents are black, and over 20 percent are Hispanic. And many of these residents believe these hog farmers know exactly what they’re doing. In May, Observer reported that “A class action lawsuit was recently filed by nearly 500 residents, mostly members of affected African-American communities in eastern North Carolina, against Murphy-Brown, North Carolina’s largest hog producer, for disposing pig waste by spraying it untreated into fields near those communities.”

Recent studies have linked North Carolina’s farming industries to water and air contamination. Civil Eats cites a 2015 study of the U.S. Geological Survey and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources that "found elevated levels of ammonia and nitrates, which can kill fish and cause human illness, including the fatal 'blue baby syndrome,' in water sources near the state’s CAFOs. In the same year, Johns Hopkins University and the University of North Carolina researchers found that streams near CAFOs were contaminated with hog-related fecal bacteria, including E. coli and Enterococcus.”

Factory hog farming in North Carolina has not only affected communities but the environment in which residents are forced to live under. Sadly, the state is not showing any signs of stopping this. In the wake of the lawsuit against Murphy-Brown, North Carolina’s state legislature is pushing a bill that will ease regulations on hog operations and ultimately negatively affect county’s like Duplin even more.

An issue that needs to be elevated by Democratic Party leaders in NC is that of environmental justice. African-Americans have perpetually been subject to unhealthy situations due to the placement of both agricultural and industrial operations, but it's not just their physical health that comes under attack. These folks get trapped economically, because their property values plummet to the point they can hardly even give it away, much less get enough money for it to start over somewhere else.

I know there's a much higher concentration of voters in urban and suburban areas, and our resources are not unlimited. But Democrats need to stand up for these people, point out these issues and push for change, because nobody else will. And if we can't do something as obviously needed as this, then what's the point?