New laws resulting from the recently concluded session of the 2011 North Carolina General Assembly could prove beneficial to pork producers, according to the North Carolina Pork Council Porkline e-newsletter. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) experienced significant policy changes, including the transfer of both the Division of Soil and Water Conservation and the Division of Forestry from DENR to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Legislated budget reductions have also led to changes in the state’s pork production site inspection program. In the past, two annual inspections have been performed on permitted swine farms with a technical inspection by the Division of Soil and Water Conservation and a regulatory inspection performed by the Division of Water Quality. Beginning in July, swine farms will no longer receive the annual technical inspection from the Division of Soil and Water Conservation. However, the annual regulatory inspections performed by the Division of Water Quality will not change.

Additional legislated changes restrict the rulemaking authority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Labor, and Department of Agriculture by disallowing the adoption of any rules that are more restrictive than federal law. The exceptions would be if a rule is required by a court order, an act of Congress, or if there is a serious threat to public health, safety or welfare.

A new program called the Agricultural Water Resources Assistance Program was established with the passage of the North Carolina budget. The program, funded with an initial $1 million, will provide cost-share funds to assist farmers and landowners in three key areas:

  • Increasing water use efficiency, availability, and storage;

  • Implementation of best management practices to conserve and protect water resources; and

  • To increase water availability for agricultural purposes.

    The program will be administered by the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.

    Read more about the ongoing changes in the North Carolina pork industry in the June 15, 2011 issue of National Hog Farmer magazine online at nationalhogfarmer.com/.