Wednesday, March 4, 2015

South Carolina farming faces challenges

I'm vacationing in South Carolina where I find the public is turning against the hog industry because many are fed up with the odours, water pollution and animal welfare status on corporate-run farms.

And the chicken industry has another set of challenges as vandals have killed about 325,000 birds either by increasing heat in barns with nearly-mature birds or turning it down in barns with new-born poults.

The hog-industry criticisms are not new, but they have new legs following the publication of a scathing feature article in a health journal.

And in North Carolina, a fed-up neighbour has launched an odour-based lawsuit against hog farmers.

The health journal article features people who say they lives have been destroyed by the pervasive odours, it details the extent of soil and water pollution and it interviewed a person who said he saw dead pigs stacked 40 high behind a hog barn.

Revenge may be the motive for the killings in South Carolina of more than 300,000 commercial chickens worth about $1.7 million over the past two weeks, authorities said Monday.

Authorities suspect disgruntled and laid-off workers are responsible for the birds killed in 16 barns at six farms producing for Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., the largest poultry producer in the U.S.

The company laid off about 60 people just before the killings began, Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett said.

The company has a processing plant at Sumter, S.C., about 150 km north of Charleston.
One farmer lost 160,000 birds in eight chicken barns.

Authorities are searching for killers with a deep working knowledge of raising chickens, Garrett said. They bypassed alarm systems and raised or lowered temperature in the chicken houses, killing them, Garrett said.

“Depending on the age of the birds, they knew whether to jack the heat up or jack the heat off,” Garrett said.

It's not a fun time to be a large-scale farmer in South Carolina.

Maybe they should refer the public to that new blog set up by Farm & Food Care for Ontario.