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Override Complete: Hog Farmers Now Cloaked In Government Protection

A hog farm in Lyons, Georgia.
Jeff Vanuga, USDA NRCS

A fourth veto, and now a fourth override, and now hog farmers are shielded with government protection.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly knocked down Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill related to hog farmers. Going forward, farmers, including those who operate hog farms, will never have to pay more than a restricted amount of damages if smells from their farms drive down property values.

Cooper vetoed the bill because he said the protections opened the door to weaken civil actions in other nuisance cases. The Senate completed the override Thursday.

The fight related to House Bill 467, which now shields all agriculture and forestry operators, though is targeted specifically at protecting hog farmers. Residents that live in proximity to hog farmers complain of foul stenches, flies, nausea, and other problems. Lawsuits have been filed against Murphy-Brown, the largest hog producer in North Carolina, which could soon go to trial. Initially, HB 467 would have worked retroactively to protect Murphy-Brown, but that portion was dropped from the bill.

These kinds of protections limit compensation to victims if a jury finds fault. Specifically, a hog farmer found guilty of a permanent nuisance would have to pay the victims no more than fair market value for their properties. Opponents of the bill argue that if a nuisance exists, the fair market value of those properties will have been drastically reduced, making that an unfair cap to the property owner victim.

Jason deBruyn is the WUNC health reporter, a beat he took in 2020. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016.
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