Cooper proposes $18 million for swine buyout program

A flooded hog lagoon in the Neuse watershed during Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s proposed 2022-23 budget calls for allocating $18 million to the swine buyout program — a program Sound Rivers fully supports.

Created in 1999 after several hurricanes caused massive flooding, breeched hog lagoons and drowned hundreds of livestock in southeastern North Carolina, the swine buyout program is designed to reduce pollution from hog farms located in the 100-year floodplain.

Since its creation, 43 farms, at risk for flooding, have been selected to participate in the program.

The $18 million in Cooper’s proposed budget could potentially pay for 18 to 20 buyouts.

Applicants are selected for the program based on various criteria, including the elevation of lagoon dikes and production houses relative to floodplain elevation, history of flooding on the property and distance to a waterway classified as water supply or high-quality waters.

Once part of the buyout program, farmers can use the land for low-density agriculture, such as growing row crops, but they cannot use the land for hog-waste spray fields or non-agricultural development.

Watch our short video below to learn why the swine buyout program so important to water quality in eastern North Carolina.