Disrespecting Farmers and All of Duplin County

When I was growing up, cartoons were supposed to be funny and entertaining. Now, they are just mean-spirited and insulting.

Earlier this week, Capitol Broadcasting, the Raleigh company that owns WRAL-TV and a host of other television, radio and digital media outlets, published an editorial cartoon that suggests picking up the NC General Assembly and moving it to Duplin County.

The message: Let’s send legislators to the worst possible place in North Carolina we can imagine. The cartoon shows pigs, chickens and turkeys next to the legislative building, which is seemingly surrounded by waste, flies and odor.

I’m offended. And everyone else who calls Duplin County home should be offended about the way our community was wrongly portrayed.

Who wants to bet that the person who drew that cartoon has never set foot on a Duplin County farm?

If he had, he would know that our farms are well regulated and well maintained. He would know that our family farmers take pride in their farms and treat our land with respect. He would know that most of our farmers live on their farms and raise their children and grandchildren here.

Duplin County is home to beautiful countryside and fine, upstanding people who care deeply about their community.

But let’s not let truth get in the way of taking a good jab at the legislature — and a disgraceful shot at everyone who lives in Duplin County.

In making recent proposals to relocate DMV headquarters to Rocky Mount and DHHS headquarters to Granville County, the legislature has adopted a bold strategy: moving certain state offices to rural communities outside of Raleigh, where real estate is much more affordable and the demand for good jobs is high.

Fortunately, Duplin County is benefiting tremendously from its agricultural roots. The pork and poultry industries have created good jobs here and contributed significant tax dollars to our local economy. That, in turn, has helped improve our local schools and services.

I’m proud to call Duplin County home, and I’m proud to bring people here to show them what life on our farms is truly like. I would hate to imagine our community without the valuable contributions of North Carolina’s family farmers. Thank you for all that you do.

-Chad Herring– Executive Director, NC Farm Families


Cheap Shots Taken in Recent Article About Hog Farmers

It’s no secret that the newspaper business is struggling mightily. Here’s the impact: Smaller staffs means that The News & Observer and others now rely on stories they didn’t write more and more frequently. It pays for some stories, like those by the Associated Press, while others are free.

We tell you this because The News & Observer just published a story about hog farmers that was written by ProPublica.

Who is ProPublica?

It’s a nonprofit news group that receives funding from, among other sources, foundations that also support groups opposed to animal agriculture. ProPublica writes the stories, then provides them to newspapers looking for stories to publish.

The negative slant of ProPublica’s story about hog farmers is no surprise. It read like a compilation of all the unkind stories written by partisan groups like the Waterkeepers Alliance. And it featured familiar characters, like Elsie Herring, repeating a familiar litany of complaints: She can’t go outside. She can’t open her windows. She’s a prisoner in her own home. All because she lives near a hog farm.

But at the top of the same story in The News and Observer there was a picture of the ‘woman who can’t go outside’ — standing outside in front of her home.

Herring once claimed the hog farmer next to her home sprayed his field “three or four days on a slow week” and sometimes “daily” and sometimes “at night.” (She’s also claimed that he sprays eight feet from her front door, which clearly isn’t true.)

Every time a farmer applies effluent, the law requires him to keep a record for state inspectors.

So, what do the records show? That he uses that field very infrequently. Records from 2017 show that the farmer only used the field near Herring’s home twice — and he continues to use the field only on rare occasions.

ProPublica didn’t tell you that.ProPublica wrote about the pork industry’s supposed “political clout,” reporting that farmers and farm groups have contributed more than $16 million to politicians over the past 18 years. But it didn’t mention the political influence of those opposed to hog farming. Trial lawyers, in particular,are politically well connected, both individually and through their powerful political action committee.

You find the same type of slanted reporting throughout the story.

ProPublica reported that 33 lagoons “overflowed” during Hurricane Florence. But it failed to mention that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality correctly characterized the overflow as “diluted storm water” in a public meeting last week. The fact is that more than 98% of the state’s 3,300 lagoons came through the hurricane just fine.

ProPublica wrote about the nuisance lawsuits against Smithfield Foods. But it didn’t mention the lawsuits were started by predatory out-of-state lawyers who promised big paydays for those who signed up. The attorneys were thrown off the case for their unethical behavior in recruiting clients.

And ProPublica wrote how in a state “where Confederate Monuments still stand,” agriculture has its roots “in the plantation system and slavery.”

Is that unbiased investigative journalism? It sure sounds a lot like the work of someone with an activist agenda.

ProPublica’s cheap shots went on and on. And The News and Observer published every single one of them.

Hog Farmers and the...Mafia?

Well, now we've heard it all. An environmental activist just compared hog farmers to the Mafia.Huh?Riverkeeper Tom Mattison said – in the Jacksonville Daily News – that “the hog industry is run like the Mafia.” I guess he doesn’t know, or decided he’d ignore, that, unlike the Mafia, hog farms are closely regulated by the state. And that they’re managed by family farmers – not gangsters – who pride themselves on doing things the right way.Perhaps Tom Mattison also doesn’t realize that, instead of breaking laws like the Mafia, our farmers perform a public service by raising food for millions of people.This is just one more over-the-edge attack, but it does prove some folks will stop at nothing when it comes to taking potshots at farmers.Mattison also accused them of polluting North Carolina’s waterways – despite the fact that, as the article mentioned, the main river running through the heart of hog country has received some of the best water quality ratings in the state.No doubt, there are water quality issues with many rivers. However, it’s also a fact that pollution comes from a wide range of sources, including those associated with urban growth and the massive spills from our municipal waste water treatment plants. Just a few months ago, Charlotte spilled 15.4 million gallons of raw sewage into a nearby creek.Tom Mattison wants to pin the blame on someone else instead of going after the real culprits…sounds just like something the Mafia might do.