After Hurricane Floyd devastated North Carolina in 1999 and caused the flooding of dozens of hog-waste lagoons in eastern North Carolina, the N.C. General Assembly created and funded a Swine Floodplain Buyout Program. The buyout funds are used to close waste lagoons, purchase swine production and development rights and establish conservation easements in areas prone to flooding. The voluntary program is popular, because the farmers retain ownership of the land and can still use the land for agriculture — just not industrialized animal production. Funding for this program has been very limited in the past decade. In all, $24 million has been spent in the past 20 years to close more than 40 industrialized hog facilities and waste lagoons.
The need and demand for the swine floodplain buyout program is as great as ever. Just four years ago, Hurricane Florence resulted in the flooding of 46 swine waste lagoons and another 60 were nearly overtopped by rising rivers. When the Division of Soil and Water Conservation opened up applications in 2018-2019, 23 facilities applied, but there was only enough funding to close three or four of them.
Gov. Cooper has prioritized this program, requesting $18 million be added to the budget to support the buyout of additional swine facilities at grave risk of flooding and causing serious public health hazards. Please email today and urge N.C. General Assembly leaders to support funding for this important program.
Watch Sound Rivers’ PSA on the buyout program below!