DUPLIN COUNTY -- The debate continues over hog farms and their impact on the state’s economy and on residents.
- Several hundred people gathered in Duplin County to support farmers across NC
- Republicans are speaking against so-called nuisance lawsuits
- A couple was recently awarded $25 million after suing Smithfield Foods
State Republican leaders gathered in Duplin County to speak against so-called nuisance lawsuits. This after a couple was recently awarded $25 million after they sued Smithfield Foods.
Several hundred people gathered on the farm in Duplin County, all to support not only farmers in eastern North Carolina, but across the state.
It’s been a hot topic of debate as the Farm Act moved through the legislature, making it harder for the public to file so-called nuisance lawsuits by people who say they are bothered with issues like the smell of production or how hog waste is disposed.
"God be thanked that there are farmers who are willing to deal with the conditions of production so that others can enjoy the benefits of consumption,” said Rep. Jimmy Dixon, Duplin County.
The gathering comes on the heels of a recent win for neighbors who filed a nuisance lawsuit against Smithfield Farms with the couple walking away with more than $25 million.
This suit dealt with a massive hog farmer, but it’s the type of lawsuit state leaders say are bad for state’s smaller, family-owned farms and, in turn, bad for the state’s economy.
“One day you find out an out-of-state trial lawyer has a bunch of plaintiffs, and comes out and says, 'Guess what? We are going to sue you and put you out of business now.' That’s just not fair and it’s unAmerican,” said Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.
Despite the large crowd standing with the farmers, there are still plenty in the community who don’t.
“Property owners have a right to do whatever they want to do on their property as long as they don’t violate any laws or infringe on any other property owners' rights. And these guys with the hog farms infringe on just about all their neighbors' rights,” said Craig Crumpler, Duplin County resident.
Craig Crumpler says despite the passage of the Farm Act, he doesn’t think anything will change.
“There are 25,000 cesspools within just a few miles from here, and it's not going to stop. It will put them out of business unless they learn to take care of the problem that they are producing themselves,” said Craig Crumpler, Duplin County resident.
Despite the opposition, this group says they will continue to support farming in all of its aspects.
All of the speakers vowed to stand shoulder to shoulder with all of the farmers who may be dealing with nuisance lawsuits in the future.