Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 10, 2018
One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “North Carolina: No. 1 in Hog Production, No. 47 in Teacher’s Salaries.”
Yes, North Carolina proudly leads the nation in hog production. In fact, we have more hogs than people, currently around 10 million.
It seems that Polk County soon will too, if our current county commissioners, headed by Jake Johnson, have their way.
The slop Johnson’s feeding us ominously smells like that spewed forth by Wendell Murphy, a longtime state representative probably responsible for the spectacular growth of industrial hog farming since 1983.
In the General Assembly, from 1983 to 1992, Murphy successfully lobbied to have hog farms exempted from two sales taxes, zoning regulations, inspection fees and from pesky legal suits brought by local residents for pollution and environmental damage.
Today, the four counties that lead in hog production, Duplin, Sampson, Robeson and Bladen, are among the poorest of the state’s 100 counties, and Polk soon will join them.
Additionally, “small family farms” have virtually disappeared, while “industrial” ones have taken over. Between 1987 and 1997, the number of hog producers dropped from 23,000 to 8,000, with more since.
What about all those jobs? Today, hog slaughtering, breeding and waste disposal are among the nation’s lowest paying, so much so that illegal immigrants dominate them.
And Wendell Murphy? He became North Carolina’s first billionaire by 1997, and today probably has more money than Donald Trump, both living “high on the hog.”
Today, funded by Chinese companies, the hog lobby has replaced that of tobacco, and continually looks for counties like Polk to expand, seeking “locally undesirable land use,” recruiting “least resistant” local officials, usually Republicans, “advocates of the free market” and “against regulation of any kind.”
As for why Jake Johnson kept using the term “farms” and “small farmers,” perhaps it is because, according to NC GS 106-581.1 part 3, “farms” are exempt from local zoning regulations, as long as they’re used for “farming purposes” like raising hogs. It also helps fool us into being sympathetic.
Thus, if our local commissioners approve having industrial hog farms here in Polk County, it’s a done deal. You have no say whatever.
Still, don’t worry, we could have a world-class hog-calling contest next year…
Milton Ready, Tryon