Development of Environmentally Superior Technologies for Swine Waste Management per Agreements between the Attorney General of North Carolina, Smithfield Foods, Premium Standards Farms, and Frontline Farmers

 

The Agreement

 

In the summer and fall of 2000, the Attorney General of North Carolina entered into agreements first with Smithfield Foods and its subsidiaries and then with Premium Standard Farms under which the two companies consented to fund development of environmentally superior waste management technologies for use on North Carolina swine farms owned by the companies.

Smithfield Foods agreed to provide $15 million for this effort, while the attorney general allocated $2.1 million from the Premium Standard Farms agreement, for a total of $17.1 million for the environmentally superior technologies identification and development initiative. In March of 2002 the attorney general entered a third agreement with Frontline Farmers, an organization made up of independent swine farmers. While Frontline Farmers is not providing funding, the organization's membership did agree to work cooperatively with the attorney general and North Carolina State University to develop and implement environmentally superior technologies.

The various agreements call for a "designee" to oversee the selection and evaluation of technologies. C.M. (Mike) Williams, director of the Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center at North Carolina State University, was appointed designee by NC State Chancellor Marye Anne Fox.

The agreements define an environmentally superior technology as "any technology, or combination of technologies that (1) is permittable by the appropriate governmental authority; (2) is determined to be technically, operationally and economically feasible for an identified category or categories of farms as described in the agreements and (3) meets the following performance standards: 1. Eliminates the discharge of animal waste to surface waters and groundwater through direct discharge, seepage or runoff; 2. Substantially eliminates atmospheric emissions of ammonia; 3. Substantially eliminates the emission of odor that is detectable beyond the boundaries of the parcel or tract of land on which the swine farm is located; 4. Substantially eliminates the release of disease-transmitting vectors and airborne pathogens; and 5. Substantially eliminates nutrient and heavy metal contamination of soil and groundwater."

Selection of environmentally superior technology candidates to undergo performance verification and economic analysis involved a request for proposals that was issued nationwide to research institutions and industry. Technology selections were based on terms and conditions of the agreements and competitive review (outside ad hoc review) as well as review by an Advisory Panel appointed by the designee (per the Agreements) and comprised of individuals representing government, environmental and community interests, the companies (Smithfield, Premium Standard Farms and Frontline Farmers) and individuals with expertise in animal waste management, environmental science and public health, economics and business management. This process yielded 18 technology candidates. These technologies are now is various stages of construction or operation and performance verification.