Pork producers have long used this phrase, sometimes almost affectionately, in describing the odor of their operations.
Tolerance of the, well, let's just call it unique aroma associated with hog production, has come with a wink, a nod and the knowing statement that "it's the smell of money."
With the growth in the size of operations and the ever-growing sprawl of urban residents into rural areas, the smell of money has taken on a new meaning.
Now, the money is being spent on eliminating the smell. The attack on odor is many fronted. Mike Williams, director of North Carolina State University's Animal and Poultry Waste Management Center, notes that the management of odor emissions involves a complex set of scientific, economic, social and political issues.
Williams says that it may not be practical or feasible to eliminate odor, but that "we can take significant steps to manage or mitigate odor." He recommends a systems approach using a combination of the many technologies available today (see summary of odor control technologies on page 44).
All across the U.S., Williams and other university researchers have turned their focus on odor-related projects. Some attack the problem from the engineering side with filters (pages 12 and 38), while others tackle odor from the source with nutrition (page 36).
And, private industry has jumped into the fray. Some offer possible solutions such as ozone treatment (page 31), while others provide systems for managing lagoons, covers and chemical additives to treat manure. Large investments are being made in genetically altering feed ingredients as well.
Private agricultural engineers have seen their business boom as new legislation has forced some operations to find a way to meet strict air and odor standards.
The people closest to the smell, the producers, are investing their time and money to address the issue. The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) has launched a $10 million On-Farm Odor/Environmental Assistance Program (page 10). The National Pork Board also has targeted a good portion of its research budget toward odor and air quality projects (page 56).
What is the cost of an odor problem? A jury recently awarded about 100 neighbors of a Premium Standard Farms operation near Princeton, MO, a $5 million settlement, citing health and nuisance concerns from the air emanating from the hog set-up. Those kind of numbers give a whole new meaning to the smell of money.