Under the Radar: Pollution From Poultry Factory Farms Grows

Under the Radar: Pollution From Poultry Factory Farms Grows

February 2019


In 2018, manure from 515.3 million chickens and other poultry raised in North Carolina factory farms was piled on top of the manure from nine million pigs that was already sickening people and fouling water. The state put a moratorium on new pig farms, in 1997, but chicken farms multiplied under the radar. Now chickens are a bigger source of pollution than pigs but are still escaping oversight by environmental regulators.

North Carolina regulators are now taking a second look at shockingly lax enforcement of pig factory farms. New and tougher standards for pig farms must also account for the chicken manure being piled on top of an already unacceptable threat to human health and the environment.

Hurricane Florence Flooded Four New Poultry CAFOs on the Cape Fear River

Source: USDA, National Agriculture Imagery Program (1m) – June 20, 2016, Planet, Dove (3m) – Sept. 19, 2018

Where Are The New Chicken Factory Farms?

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  • 1
    Today there are twice as many poultry factory farms as pig farms.
  • 2
    515.3 million chickens and turkeys are stuffed into the same counties where pigs are already threatening health and fouling water.
  • 3
    268 poultry operations in Duplin and Sampson counties are within three miles of least 40 other pig or poultry factory farms.
  • 4
    Poultry manure now dumps nearly five times more nitrogen and four times more phosphorus than pig manure onto farm fields each year.

As regulators set standards to protect people and water in the new swine rules, they can’t pretend chickens don’t exist. Factory chicken farms have piled into the same counties that hold the most pigs.

Poultry Operations Packed Into Sampson and Duplin Counties

Source: EWG, Waterkeeper Alliance and North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality

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