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Residents raise concerns as state's poultry industry takes advantage of lax waste management regulations: 'We can do better'

The poultry industry in the state has already been linked with a number of environmental concerns.

The poultry industry in the state has already been linked with a number of environmental concerns.

Photo Credit: iStock

Lax regulations on North Carolina's poultry industry are leading to huge hills of stinky manure and environmental concerns, the Guardian reported.

What's happening?

Activists in North Carolina are complaining about massive piles of feces, urine, and sawdust bedding at large-scale poultry operations in the state, which they say are endangering local residents and the environment. They blame the situation on a lack of regulation on the industry, little follow-through by the state when addressing violations, and a legislature that caters to factory farms.

"I want us to do better as a state, as a country, because we can do better," Jefferson Currie II, resident and Lumber Riverkeeper with the nonprofit Winyah Rivers Alliance, told the Guardian. Currie battles invasions of flies at his residence because of his close proximity to one of these facilities. 

Why are these factory farms concerning?

The poultry industry in North Carolina has already been linked with a number of environmental concerns, including nutrient leaching into waterways and ammonia emissions into the air, the Guardian reported. Currie said he has observed high bacteria levels, algal blooms, and fish kills in waterways as a result of runoff from poorly managed chicken waste.

North Carolina is not alone in its challenges regulating the poultry industry, however. For instance, in Oklahoma, runoff from chicken litter has severely polluted rivers and streams, yet state lawmakers still advanced a bill to remove liability from companies in early 2024.

Plus, factory farming alone is responsible for 11% of all planet-warming pollution, according to advocacy group World Animal Protection. The organization also alleges that the industry subjects animals to cruel conditions, from cramped cages to mutilations and overuse of antibiotics. 

What's being done about the harms of poultry factory farms?

Environmental groups filed a civil rights complaint, claiming that North Carolina's casual regulation strategy has led large-scale poultry farms to expand into low-income counties where a disproportionate number of people of color reside. 

You can fight back against the environmental damage caused by factory farms by sourcing your poultry and other meat from local, small-scale operations. You can also cut the amount of meat you consume by going on a plant-slant diet, which is also better for your health.

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