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2002-2004, South Carolina Statehouse Report. Published weekly during the S.C. legislative session. South Carolina Statehouse Report is a media project of The Brack Group, Charleston, S.C.

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1.10: Deal apparently reached on hog farms
(Week of March 12, 2002)

Deal apparently reached on hog farms

MARCH 8, 2002 - - Sources say a deal between the House and Senate agriculture committee leaders has been reached on health regulations regarding the siting of hog farms. According to sources, the deal provides for regulations that are more strict than the proposed rules sent to the General Assembly in late January, but not as strict as the first version of those rules circulated unofficially late last year.

In December, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control circulated regulation proposals that called for tighter controls on factory-style hog farms. The initial proposal required pig farms larger than 3,500 animals to be at least 25 miles apart, increase the distance between swine facilities and creeks (the "setback" area) and ban open waste lagoons on farms of more than 3,500 pigs, according to The State.

By the end of January when DHEC submitted the regulations to the General Assembly, the proposal was far less strict on medium-sized hog farms (3,500 to 7,000 animals), particularly in vastly reducing setback areas. Proponents of tougher rules were worried that removing setbacks would allow multiple medium-sized farms to flourish and create, in effect, areas of high concentrations of medium-sized hog farms. Opponents said the rules threatened expansion of the pig industry when farm income is dwindling.

According to the deal apparently reached between House and Senate negotiators, setbacks of up to 1,000 feet are required for most swine facilities. But small and medium-sized swine facilities can get waivers for setbacks if adjacent properties are managed by a professional silvicultural company, in agricultural crop production or zoned agricultural. Large farms, which have a larger general setback, are subject to a 1,000-foot setback if they get a waiver from adjacent property in the three categories listed above.

Bottom line: House and Senate agriculture leaders appear to have developed a compromise on setbacks and other issues. Look for the House and Senate to send the proposed rules back to DHEC for further work. When the rules return for approval, they may face less internal opposition.

In another development, hog farm rules may become part of the week's budget debate as some leaders may attempt to tie the need for tougher hog regulations to DHEC funding.

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6/14: Ethics reform needed now

More done than you'd think(1.23)
More education $ also means cuts (1.22)
PSC reform to come, but when?(1.21)



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