Articles in regional publications that pertain to a wide range of North Carolina-related topics.
for Independent Weekly Vol. 24 Issue 14, April 2007
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A proposed merger would cause Smithfield Packing to have a monopoly on the hog market in North Carolina. If the merger goes through, farmers would have less leverage to negotiate prices for their product. Politicians in the state have been silent on the issue as Smithfield has contributed money to many party committees and political candidates. Farmers in the state speak about concerns and the effects the merger would have on them.
The troubles with unions and workers’ rights at Smithfield’s hog processing plant in Bladen County are detailed. The company has fought the elections of union workers at the plant for years. The fast pace of the processing line has been another problem for workers as there are frequent injuries. Workers from the plant discuss the company’s poor and unsafe working environment.
Smithfield Packing is asking the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to remove essential environmental protections from the Tar Heel plant’s wastewater discharge permit. Smithfield also wants limits lifted on groundwater withdrawal, to requirements rescinded for environmental management systems, and removal of a ban on buying hogs from farms that use waste lagoons. The company is being regulated for many environmental violations and for their excessive use of groundwater, both of which harm local residents and the environment.
Hog lagoons or cesspools are the disposal method of waste in the hog industry. However, after 2005, there were no supposed to be any more lagoons in use in the state. The lagoons contaminate groundwater and nearby watersheds and Governor Easely made a deal with industry to do away with the lagoons for a better environmentally and economically feasible method. To date, there has not been an agreed-upon economically feasible method, but some are hoping that research will produce one soon.
Fuquay-Varina illustrator Michael Ryan is currently working with cult TV creator Joss Whedon on a comic for Marvel Comics. Ryan’s work has gained a lot of attention lately and he has worked with many well-known writers in comics. Runaways is the name of Ryan’s latest work and he describes what it is like to work on the comic and work in the comic book industry.