The legislative process can induce much nose-holding. But living near the General Assembly has got to be better than staying within smelling distance of one of the state’s massive hog farms, which feature lagoons filled with pig feces and urine and industrial sprinklers spraying plumes of liquefied swine excrement into the air.
The eye-watering burden of having thousands of hogs as neighbors spurred about 500 rural North Carolinians in 2014 to file federal suits against Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield. Its parent company in China, the WH Group, holds the title for world’s largest pork producer.
With the hog-stench trials looming, some legislators put forth an effort to protect the state’s multibillion-dollar hog industry by introducing legislation that would have capped damages at the value of the plaintiffs’ properties.
Luckily for the plaintiffs, lawyer and Republican Rep. John Blust of Greensboro introduced an amendment to the bill that would prevent it from applying to the existing litigation.
“We don’t need to be, at the last minute, rushing in to bail out a defendant — and that’s what’s happening,” Blust told the Associated Press. The House ended up passing the bill with Blust’s new language, kicking the ball to the Senate’s court.
A primary sponsor of the original bill, farmer and Republican Rep. Jimmy Dixon of Duplin County, has asserted that the complaints at the heart of the suits are “at best exaggerations and at worst outright lies,” the AP reported.
“I have lived on a farm all my life. My children and my grandchildren have walked gleefully with me through my hog houses and my turkey houses, and they’ve participated on a daily basis,” Dixon said.
Ah, yes, the halcyon days of skipping gleefully with grandpa through earthy plumes of liquefied pig feces.