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Reviewing the First 4 Hog Nuisance Trials--What You Need to Know

 As we’re waiting for the fifth trial to begin, let’s re-examine the first four trials.

Fact #1: The trials didn’t happen because an irritated neighbor drove to a local lawyer’s office, sat down and said, My neighbor’s hog farm’s a nuisance. I want to sue him. Instead, a group of lawyers came to North Carolina, knocked on hog farmers’ neighbors’ doors and said, ‘We’ll sue the hog farmer. We’ll pay the bills. You sign here and be a plaintiff. And if we win you’ll get part of the money.’ It proved to be an enticing offer. It’s why we have these lawsuits.

Fact #2: Oddly, no juror heard about that fact during the trials. The lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the judge to instruct Smithfield’s lawyers not to mention it to jurors. And the judge agreed. Why did that matter?During the Joey Carter farm trial,four of Carter’s neighbors testified for him. One told the jury: “It’s not what they say. There is not an odor, and I live so close to the farm I can hear the feeders run out in the hog house.” Another said: “We live next door. My wife and kids, we walk on the farm and near it. There’s no issue, no concern, no odor.” A third testified what was being said about Joey Carter’s farm did not make sense. And a fourth testified: “I hate to feel like an innocent man is going down.

A fifth witness, the local postwoman, told the jury, “I can’t tell you the last time I’ve smelled odor from the farm.” Day in and day out, that postwoman had delivered mail to Joey Carter’s farm – and she couldn’t recall the last time she smelled odor.

In addition, a respected scientist who’d done studies at Joey Carter’s farm had found no objectionable odor.

Two neighbors – who signed up for the lawsuits – testified against him.

But neither plaintiff was asked, You lived beside that hog farm for years but didn’t complain – then a lawyer knocked on your door and said, ‘We’ll sue the hog farmer. Join us, we’ll pay the bills and you could make money.’ Is the reason you’re suing to make money?

Wouldn’t that have gone straight to the heart of plaintiffs’ testimony? And their credibility? But no juror ever heard that question asked – or knew even it existed – because the Judge had ruled jurors shouldn’t be told that fact.

Part 2 of a 6 part series

Hog Farmers Ruin Lives: An Untruthful Story by the Waterkeepers

kennedyOne of the new videos from the Waterkeeper Alliance tells a heartbreaking story… or, at least, the story would be heartbreaking if it was true.When the Waterkeepers climb up on their soapboxes, they like to depict hog farmers as villains who don’t care about “racial injustice.”To prove their point, they like to tell the story of Elsie Herring, an African-American woman in Sampson County who lived near a hog farm. Back in 1998, Mrs. Herring had a legitimate complaint: The hog farmer next door was spraying too close to her home.Here’s what happened: Mrs. Herring took her grievance to the farmer, the company investigated, and agreed Mrs. Herring was right. The farmer then moved his irrigation equipment further away from Mrs. Herring’s house, stopped spraying close to her home, and the company planted a grove of trees between her home and the farmer’s field as an additional buffer.Eighteen years later, that story took an odd turn. The Waterkeepers, along with one of their allies, posted a “report” on the Internet saying a farmer was spraying waste eight feet from Elsie Herring’s kitchen window… not 18 years ago. But now. Today.The Waterkeepers took a mistake that had happened almost two decades ago – and told people it is happening now.Here’s a photograph of Mrs. Herring’s home today. The trees planted years ago have now grown into a forest so thick you can’t see the farmer’s field from her house.houseThis is a photograph of the farmer’s field on the far side of the trees.spprayAnd this aerial photo shows that the farmer’s irrigation doesn’t come any closer to the house than two hundred feet – not eight feet like the Waterkeepers claimedarielAnd here’s a video that tells the entire story.[video width="960" height="540" mp4="http://ncfarmfamilies.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/elsie-herring.mp4"][/video]Hog farmers aren’t perfect. But they are honest, hard-working people. And when they make a mistake they fix it. Just like that farmer did 18 years ago.The Waterkeeper Alliance is just playing politics. The hard part is, when the Waterkeepers play politics, a lot of hard-working farmers get hurt.

Why the Waterkeepers' Mantra is Wrong

baldwinThe Waterkeeper Alliance has released nine new videos attacking North Carolina hog farmers. Let’s take a look at the first one, which they’ve posted on YouTube and promoted (paid to run) on Facebook.The Waterkeepers video repeats the same old mantra they have tried to foist on people for years. They say-- There are a lot of hogs, there are mountains of waste, and there’s not enough land to absorb it all. Now, that’s just plain dead wrong. And the Waterkeepers know it. Here’s why:A farmer can’t just build a hog farm and go into business. They have to obtain a permit from the state. And to get that permit, they first have to tell the state two things: How may acres of land they have on the farm, and what crops they are going to raise.Next a state lab, using soil tests and agronomic rates, calculates how much manure those crops will consume as they grow.Then, finally, the state uses the lab’s data to determine how many hogs the farmer can raise on their farm without over-applying manure to the land.It’s that simple: How much land the farmer has and the crops they grow determine how many hogs they are allowed to raise.In addition, state officials inspect every hog farm each year to verify the farmer is complying with every one of those regulations. If they don’t, the state can put that farmer out of business.But you won’t see those facts in these Waterkeeper videos. They just scream, There are a lot of hogs, there are mountains of waste, and it’s gotta be polluting. But, in fact, the whole system – from permits to studies in state labs to state inspections – is designed to protect the environment. Here’s a video that tells a story about how one farmer, James Lamb, has worked to comply with state regulations to protect the environment for almost two decades.The Waterkeepers just keep on spinning. But, of course, it’s all just politics. The hard part is, when the Waterkeepers play politics, hard-working farmers – like James Lamb –  get hurt.