In this file:
· Hog farm trial testimony: Crusty pigs, ‘feces in the air‘
… Was it feces? Mixed with urine? On the witness stand, a retired executive for Smithfield Foods, the largest hog producer in North Carolina, said he couldn‘t be sure…
· Companies launch plan to capture methane from hog manure lagoons
…Smithfield will capture the gas by covering the lagoons with high-density plastic and digesters, equipment used to extract the key elements. This will, incidentally, keep some rainwater off in the event of a heavy downpour, like the rain that fell during Hurricane Florence, flooding the lagoons and spilling waste...
Hog farm trial testimony: Crusty pigs, ‘feces in the air‘
By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter
Katie Hansen, Felton Business News (AR) - November 29, 2018
Raleigh, N.C. — The pictures showed pigs covered in a crusted brown mix. Hog barn floors glistened with standing moisture. The walls were caked with something.
Was it feces? Mixed with urine? On the witness stand, a retired executive for Smithfield Foods, the largest hog producer in North Carolina, said he couldn‘t be sure.
Another picture: A hog lagoon, apparently partially dried out, exposing blackening crud. Isn‘t that stuff supposed to be underwater, the attorney asked? Doesn‘t it smell?
“You can‘t tell from this photograph,” said Don Butler, a former spokesman for Smithfield who‘s also a hog farmer himself.
Perhaps that‘s foam floating in the water, Butler said, not solids exposed to air.
What about the measuring device that scientist has extended into the lagoon, clearly touching dry ground, attorney Michael Kaeske asked.
I don‘t know how heavy that is, Butler said. Maybe it‘s floating, he said.
The pictures won‘t be released to the public until after the trial concludes, but this was some of the back and forth Thursday in the third of 26 lawsuits filed against Smithfield hog operations in eastern North Carolina. The legal team representing neighbors of the farms hopes to convince another jury that the smells emanating from these lagoons and from the spray cannon used to spread waste on nearby fields represent a nuisance deserving of legal damages.
So far, neighbors are 2-0, winning a pair of multimillion-dollar verdicts against the Chinese-owned pork giant, though those amounts will come down significantly due to a state cap on punitive damages.
The losses have the industry and area farmers who contract with Smithfield spooked...
Companies launch plan to capture methane from hog manure lagoons
via Watertown Daily Times (NY) - November 29, 2018
The world’s largest pork producer is teaming up with a Virginia-based energy company to harness methane gas from thousands of noxious hog lagoons to both heat homes and combat climate change.
Food giant Smithfield and Dominion Energy, a large electric and gas utility, have agreed to spend $125 million each over 10 years to cover hog lagoons in North Carolina, Virginia and Utah, capture methane gas and feed that into Dominion’s pipeline network, the companies said.
The joint venture, which would be one of the largest animal waste-to-energy efforts of its kind, would be a step forward in containing U.S. agricultural emissions, which account for 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions. The states were chosen because both companies have operations there.
“The environmental footprint of agriculture has to do with the crops fed to livestock but also the waste part of animal agriculture,” Ken Sullivan, Smithfield chief executive, said in an interview. “This effort is focused on the waste aspect in our endeavor to divert an inevitable part of the waste stream into something usable, that has economic benefit and, in the process, reduces our carbon footprint.” He said farmers would benefit, too.
Methane also plays a key role in climate change. The gas is 25 times as potent a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide, though it breaks down in a much shorter time frame of 10 to 20 years.
Smithfield has said it aims to introduce manure-to-energy projects covering 90 percent of the company’s hog finishing spaces in North Carolina and Utah. Finishing spaces, where hogs spend about 20 weeks growing from 50 pounds to market weight, are the biggest farms. But the initial stage of the project will involve four clusters of 20 to 25 farms each.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture have grown by approximately 17 percent since 1990. The driver behind that increase has been the 68 percent rise in emissions from livestock manure. Emissions from other agricultural sources have either remained flat or changed little since 1990.
Smithfield’s hog-rearing operations — including both company and individual farmer owned — produce enough manure to account for 35 to 40 percent of the company’s carbon footprint.
Sullivan vowed in late 2016 to reduce Smithfield’s greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 2010 levels by 2025. Though he wouldn’t disclose where the company stands now, he said Smithfield would spend hundreds of millions more in the effort.
“It’s a heavy lift to get there,” he said. “There’s a fair amount left to do.”
The company tried to capture methane about 13 years ago, efforts that were “pretty spectacular failures,” Sullivan said. The company lost about $25 million to $30 million, he said. The company used digesters to convert the gas from manure to biodiesel. But the effort failed because new feed for the animals reduced the amount of energy in the manure and problems plagued some of the equipment.
This time, Smithfield hopes a different plan and assistance from Dominion will help iron out issues. The captured methane will be taken by pipeline or truck to Dominion facilities that remove water, carbon dioxide and other gases so that the methane that remains can be fed into pipelines. That would crowd out other gas sources that are not renewable.
Smithfield will capture the gas by covering the lagoons with high-density plastic and digesters, equipment used to extract the key elements. This will, incidentally, keep some rainwater off in the event of a heavy downpour, like the rain that fell during Hurricane Florence, flooding the lagoons and spilling waste...