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.