The first thing Violet Branch does when she wakes up is to inhale through her nose to see whether the smell of hog excrement from across the street has seeped into her home again.
“Sometimes when I wake up the odor is in the house. Sometimes before I go to bed, the odor is in the house,” says Branch, 71, who lives next door to a swine farmer who keeps two lakes filled with a swampy mixture of feces and urine that he periodically spreads on his crops as fertilizer. An acrid odor of rotting eggs fills her yard at least twice a week and occasionally her home, giving her nausea and on some occasions causing her to vomit. All she can do is wait until it passes or ask her son who lives next door to drive her to the nearby Walmart where she paces the aisles until her breathing returns to normal.
Branch is one of over 500 residents in eastern North Carolina who are suing Murphy Brown, the pork production arm of Virginia-based meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods. They’re seeking damages over the cesspools, or lagoons as the industry calls them—uncovered earthen storage pools of waste. The complainants say the lagoons disrupt their lives and devalue their properties. Click HERE to read more.
These feedlots confine thousands of animals in small spaces before they are slaughtered, leading to a litany of abuses: the confinement inflicted on the animals, the use of preventive antibiotics to control the spread of diseases in such close quarters, poor working conditions and worker abuse, destruction of rural communities, small towns and family farms, overconsumption of resources, legendary “manure lagoons” stinking up the countryside holding animal waste unsuitable for fertilizer because of the way they are raised and fed, and climate change-inducing greenhouse gases they produce. Click HERE to read more from EcoWatch.com, Anastasia Pantsios, and Mishka Henner.