« The Weeds

Fighting back against factory farming

2020-10-02

On this special episode, we give you a preview of season 3 of the Future Perfect podcast. Vox's Dylan Matthews comes on to talk about meat and environmental justice.

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Marianne Engleman Lado, Environmental Justice Clinic, Vermont Law School

Dylan Matthews (@dylanmatt), senior correspondent, Vox 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Support, for this episode comes from one plea: gig, worker or self employed. If so, this is for you, millions of self employed workers may qualify for up to fifty thousand dollars in one hundred percent forgivable ppp loans and wildly can help you access that support. While please help diverse hundred thousand small businesses get a ppp alone and proudly serves more than six hundred thousand small businesses across Amerika funds are limited to apply now at Womply COM, VOX and see, if you qualify for a ppp loan that W O m p l why dot com, Slash Veo Ex wildly is not a lender firms and programme rules apply support for this episode comes from click up, we lose an average of three every day, switching between all our work apps, but you can get them back with click up a flexible platform that brings all your essential tools into one place where you can prioritize tasks. Collaborate on docs chat with your team and track goals, so companies like uber and web flow use clickup is their mission control Center, replacing
every other after we're using before cook up even guarantees to help you save one day week and get more done. It's completely customizable. It's free forever! So try click up today. At click up dot, com, slash the weeds, I care about humans, but my best friends are humans. I married to a human hello and welcome to another observer, the weeds on the box media podcast network, I met you Iglesias. My guest today is Dylan Matthews Use, Box, dot, com, senior, correspondent and host of the future perfect podcast. We are here to introduce a new season of that point, It is all about meat, and today we're gonna, give you the first episode of the new season, which is about a subject that, near dear to my heart, pig excrement, ass, Adele and welcome to the show always have to be here.
I dont want actually want to say too much about the picture, because that's the one that they were going to see here, but but just tell us like briefly, what's there what's the issue So picture is important because pigs as it turns out- and I did not know this before making the season produce about eight to ten times as much excrement per day as humans do pigs the enormous there. They tend to weigh a great deal more than the average human, and so, if you have farms like we do in the United States? We have. Thousands. Are tens of thousands of pigs living really close proxy to each other. They're gonna produced lot of shit and because this is a big business, you have to figure out how to store that shit or displaced or use. In the most efficient and cost effective way possible, and so on
about one way that farms have figured out how to do that. One way that dominant in North Carolina, which is one of the biggest for producing states and in the country in that way, is to spray it up into the air to users fertilizer. That makes no economic sense. If you are growing crops, any would like cheap fertilizer. What our episodes all about is why it's not great if you live near one of these farms or if you live near a bunch of these farms and your town just constantly smells of excrement, yeah some it's very smelly. I I have not. Ben to one of these. I Carolina PIG operations, but I did go. I was in Denmark one time and they were showing me an innovative bio diesel project, which was I You know why another use of this excrement about it. It had to be transported. It's it's quite malodorous and you know one thing:
smell bad, be makes you wonder, is this bad for you and- and I you know, I think one of the options here is right. We dont think of this as like an air pollution hazard, at least in the conventional sense, but like obviously, it is right that the reason you can smell this is it this little particles floating around It's bad exactly! Not only are there little particles floating around, but some of this, The groundwater during natural disaster North Carolina gets very heavily affected by hurricanes, and so you have these jobs, lagoons of pig waste and not to be excessively growth, but they they tend to overflow in flood into a nearby rivers in towns and even like houses and one thing I ve learned a lot from listening to the weeds and and reading Baxter com in recent years is that air pollution is he's a really really big deal. I, of course always knew that air pollution is bad, but I didn't know it was like caused massive
gaps in educational attainment, leads to lots of access, crime, kind of bad and what we found talking to community activists and going through the research of people, particularly in uppity me I'll, just name, Steve Wing who passed away a couple years ago who have looked into this. Is that sure enough Spain is wasting the air is correlated with a bunch of bad outcomes on. There is reason to study the found higher mortality. The closer you, were to these operations from a bunch of different causes. Now, if I were the national, bored. I would say you know we that's not per we random exactly Sarah, but there's this pretty strong circumstantial evidence that that is causing pretty bad health outcomes, and
among the evidence is that people in these communities are really really fed up and decided they wanted to fight back. Is the great point, though, about the random. I I didn't episode a while ago, just all about air pollution hazards, and this is one of the things that happening in policy now is that in the name of scientific integrity, Trump has his EPA, moving to say only true experimental data can be used by EPA in making these assessments and from a sort of abstract data quality standpoint it you know it's hard to say wrong right. I mean a randomized study is better than the kind of observational studies. You're talking about at the same time, for fairly obvious reasons, you can't randomly assign people to have picks it spread into house or any of the other pollution related right like it's not doable Essentially, what they're saying is that in the face of some uncertainty about
solid. That science is, we should act as if there's no science, when actually this quite a bit right like that fish- you're volume of studies around these issues makes it very high, to believe that, like the answer is zero, exactly most, we ve listeners that that that randomized trials have allowed advantages, but that doesn't mean non randomize trials are worthless and it also, if you look, too narrowly at that you, you just can't look at certain problems. So one of the thing that we talk about and in the past. Is that the places where these farms are look you? These are really disproportionately blackened hispanic communities that don't have a ton of political power? and so this is kind of a better double whammy where these farms come in low. Themselves near people who don't have a lot of political influence and power. I so that they were
get in trouble and then when those people do try to exercise political influence and say this is hurting us, they say no. It's but you were like worse off beforehand, were not making it worse off. So this waste is right. This is a consequence of the density of pigs in these operations essential I mean. Obviously, all animals produce excrement of various kinds, but it's when you're trying to have very large numbers of animals and in very tight pack conditions you you get a special problem, and here and so this whole season is about animal welfare type issues, and I can I can see your game here right because we ve been talking about harms to hear men's. Ah, but you're you're hidden agenda is actually has something to do with arms to animals. Doesn't it I mean I I I care about human. Some of my best friends are humans. I married to human, but but I do care a lot about what this means for animals
His had to listen to me and as recline be shrill vegetarians for many years. Well. Well, math the mediator puts up with us, but part of our Making the season- and I should say It'S- it's not me- I call hosted this Seagal, Samuel and Bird Pinkerton are pretty sir, was essential throughout it. We were trying to connect the problems that we see in meat production to things that people, regardless Our own diet can understand so late. I think you lose a lot of people right after when you say hey the way that ninety eight percent of people eat is morally bad and then those ninety percent people turn out and don't want to hear else. What we're trying to say is not like, if you're dieter you're, not in the conversation it's this is a big business and like all big businesses, it has corners that are cut. It has
externalities that aren't fully internalized. It has consequences for the environment and for workers and were were asking people to think about factory farms, not just something that might cause harm to animals that make you squeamish. Uncertainly Make me squeamish by those things that have these these wide, ranging effects on us all. But this is part of a sort of them a larger change of of thought. Waited happened in the animal welfare community about how to go about it. Why? Because one once a straw, did you you could do is to say look if you're eating me you're killing animals. We think that that's wrong obviously there were people going around eating people. We would just tell them to stop because, because wrong right element, I think be the sort of.
Lesson learned in the community, has been that that doesn't quite work as a as a political strategy. Wait answer this interest in finding ways to move things at the margin, because, if you make some of these other policy changes right, If you say, I'm, ok, we're not gonna. Let you just like dump all kinds of environmental hazards in effect, is less meat production right right, exactly a lot of the season is about coalition building, and certainly the episode about pigs is is all about coalition building, because it's about a group of environmental justice advocates mostly black residents, who have been affected by this kind of pollution, teeming with water keepers and river keepers and environmental activists and then animal rights activists giving support later because none of them on their own or powerful enough, as you say, pay pigs, don't folk and weird.
People like me, who care about some day. I think that vision, Hasn T summit, by some some day, but until pigs vote They will rely on where people like me who care about them to advocate, for them just are not enough of us. It Peter does not have an army. So what's the what's, GIG give us a sense of that sort of general scope of the of the season here. What's that what's the kind of full range of top we're taking Europe so we're its if everything from or very wide political disputes about how these plants are run. Like the pig episode, we have an episode about lion speeds, which is something that the Department of Agriculture controls just how many chickens and other animals. You have two butcher. If you're at a meat processing plant the Trump Administration ones to do more. I think watchdogs are worth. That a lot of diseased meat will get that way and also people might get injured. But then we
they have a lot more or philosophical and abstract things about how we think about our meat, and so our second episode, Bicycle Samuel is all about, how we think about the animals in our lives and why we apply different standards to each of them, so why people who have dogs and loved him deeply also love barbecue wide is that we be tree. Cats is having different moral status than pigs even pigs are almost certainly smarter, and I say that is as a deranged kept at bay. The idea, more generally, to ask us to think critically about on the raw meat place our lives, and so Seagal has a lot of air views with Neuro scientists, with philosophers with people who state social movements about these big idea.
It should be and how we think about me- and we also have a few- are more solutions, oriented episodes. We talked to a man who goes back to his family's ranch on the edge of the Amazon and Brazil to try to change how they do the grazing there for their cattle. So the scope is very broad, but our hope is that each aspect of it helps people We consider a certain aspect of the way the meat system works come newly woke, I'm cow grazing as a topic, because I'm so I'm gonna, just endlessly tout. Might my book one billion Americans available in stores today in the course of researching this, you know I had cause to look into subjects that I had previously ignored in life, such as what is the actual margin on which sort of wildlife and and nature exists in the United States. Just an incredibly large share of the land area in America. Is given over to cattle, grazing and and cattle production is incredible,
land use Burton I mean much more so than what you think of as development right, and so people will sort of fight about green space and housing or little Strip Mall somewhere, but like They the margin on which, like wilderness, preservation or or natural apologies and and and use operates is is very substantially related to meet cultivation, in Brazil as as well read, amused suits it. Do not cutting down the rain forests to expand, sent Paw South Paula right, you're right, it's Cows are incredibly land hungry our or their owners. These are and its it has incredible impacts on on rain forest there Absolutely, I think one thing deserve more coalition old way of thinking about animals has done is, is forced and amorrhites types turn to think about other costs and enter ray prioritize accordingly, like I, Some some animal rights activists who, a few years ago
would have told you that eating cows is slightly better than eating chickens, just because you don't have to kill us many of them to get the same amount of meat. But cows are also among the most environmentally problematic livestock Dave. They take up a time space. As you mentioned, but also they produce a lot of methane day directly contribute to climate change in a way that that other animals don't as substantially and so the eyes. I think there's been an effort to look more holistically, add at the cost of different aspects of livestock production ends and that's something we're hoping to do without opposition and a few others the season, but I think that part of the point of cross of these, where is that all the aspects of the meat production system, are implicated in generating a lot of unprized externalities. Why, whether that's the kind of woodland consumption and an methane gonna burps of cattle.
Or its more efficient tried. So in a narrow sense like the climate impact of chickens is lower, small and you can start them on top of each other in cages and things like that, but is it? credible obtrusive of disease risk to do that absolutely, and we every of two episodes all about disease risk, which I will rashly planning before everything before disease risk became very relative, to all of our lives by, but there of risk there, so one is a lot of novel pathogens as as we saw, was covered, come from I don't know if we've ever ever, of nailed down exactly how Covid needed, but there are a lot of plausible theories. Around live. Animal markets ends animals like penguin. Yet we are blaming the penguins thereof, cool animal, but they might have killed us all. But that's that's a general price
and Covid nineteen is not going to be. The last disease to transfer from alive, animal alive, non human animal to humans and One of the main ways that people come into very close contact with live animals that are served in invite hence where their generating new mutations of diseases is in these. These giant factory farms that we're talking about at another Specific risk is just because there are vulnerable to disease. Are farmers often given lots of antibiotics, so that the? was pathogens then often become resistant to those antibiotics in that can cause major health consequences for humans as well. If those bacteria make the jump- and we don't really the medicines to tackle Bombay enemy. This is a huge issue, because I mean what are the worst things people do is like some problem that they hadn't thought hard enough about before emerges, and so the maybe
there will be a zoonotic virus from China scenario again have been out there like vocs, had a video about this like people. In the like weird public health world and like I like to think about odd risks. World had been talking about this scenario and then it happened and people got very fired up about it. Like all we got China virus, like Chinese are not doing enough and then there's what tension being paid to antibiotic resistance. An american meat production which is different like as is the same as were covered, came from, but the exact same people who were- telling you to worry about these chinese markets have also been saying that we should worry about this, and, I mean, I guess I don't totally understand where it comes from, but it's like pack, a lot of animals together and is very unhealthy and they now I don't know it's not like Charlotte's web or something there's no way
a tender veterinarian, treating the animals I'm, so they just like what they they just like dose. Everybody with antibiotics, overtime, right and there's this their huge numbers of animals and their also circulating. So it's it's not just like you have some clump event, laws that are their isolated from the world, and so none of them are sick. There they'll be o k, have younger generations coming in constantly for pigs. They often live like eight to nine months and so in the course of a year, you're going through of one in there some generations of pigs, and so it's U generation and with each new one that gets contact to some part of the natural environment because there in structures, but they're, not they're, not like hermetically sealed from the world day. Among other things,
humans taking care of them, who can can transmit diseases both ways that that makes it a really good, petri dish for a lot of disease, mutations and, and also just the sheer number of them. If you If you, cumulatively, over a decade, have merely are billions of animals. You are in the same facility that gets clean, but that maybe not perfectly the there's just a lot of opportune It is for staff to go wrong and away where I, when I was my dad's boss, because we want the New Hampshire had a sheep farm and yet like five sheep, though sheep refine, there is thy life opportunities for like deadly super viruses to be developments way, so it's you know an enemy and again this is a question I mean look at every stage of wasn't it should the season and check it out of the technical economics term for this stuff is is externalities and the problem is you know to any
Then you have an interest in your animals, not getting sick. It's it's bad. But the harm is of an antibiotic resistant outbreak or zoonotic virus outbreak, extend to many many many other people who then dont get turn around and sue you right? So it's like you, you overindulge, like farmers have some level of concern about the hygiene in these operations at some level of interest in the animals, not all getting sick, but not nearly enough. I mean not because their net because, like they have listened to the seas it like you, the weeds listener need to listen to seize it inform yourself, but, like I think, the people in the industry like understand these problems reasonably well. It active rules like it's a business right, I'd like it and Anne. Oh you visit. Businesses are about the stupid like it's really hard to make money. Is a chicken farmers like you, don't have a lot of latitude to decide you wanted just been.
Absolutely and and it's hard to make money. Chicken farmer in part because of serve anti trust. Answer power, concentration dynamics that that the weeds crews, title about over the years, but that yeah what farms demand, turns of chickens and why? What the processors who by the chickens, demanded terms of what they look like a very specific bird and so you ve got the system where, yes, there is enough farmers who are growing birds but they're, all growing them for a handful of really big national conglomerates and they're growing it to their specifications. And often there even given checks. So these these friends will deliver checks to your individual farm. You'll grow them to specifications and sell them, but Has this kind of an an implicit understanding between these companies that they dont compete with each other, the pay for these individual farmer,
is really really love. It's kind of like becoming a franchise for Mcdonald's or something, you have to obey a lotta rules to be one of their chicken farmers and there's a really big risk. That you, spend a lot of money on it, buying these checks from the company and then trying to solve them back and what you get back doesn't pay for it. So we talk to some people who I just like dramatic variation and how much money they could make doing chicken farming and in some cases got into pretty bad debt, which is so it's I mean it's interesting thing I mean, I think you probably probably most people don't give this any consider but you know you go to the supermarket right and it's like a commodity business right. I mean, I guess, there's labels on the chicken packages or something Thyssen: that's
That's it the Africans, a big one provider and you so if they were fully integrated right you could there could be a world in which you have these giant chicken conglomerates and their employing the chicken farmers directly, but then certain kinds of liabilities and responsibilities attached to you as an employer. You also get less sympathy when it comes to our like up a regulatory bat right? If we can say, ok, we're we're gonna make this this giant chicken operation in a clean up its act? That's that's fine, but they instead structure themselves as no. No, no, no, like the chickens are raised by all these independent farmers, but the decisions are being made by weight. Is it three four: it's it's a small number. That's for yeah, it's a very small number of companies and because a small for companies in because they tend to have geographic regions. They control, like an obvious cos,
they would come to mind, is wire all these farmers regains greed over by these monopolies dot speaking up against it, and the reason is that they would just be out of the chicken business and for some of them they want that they tried it and it's not very attractive, but some people are really trying to make it as chicken farmers. This is their vocation. They want to make it work and when they speak up they're putting them and a lot of danger and they're putting themselves alive danger also in their communities where a lot of people are doing this and so
You don't want to be the one person and accompany town. His is raising concerns about the company, because you're left pretty vulnerable Eddie. It's really interesting. I mean we ve done a couple of episodes about what I'm a culture of like the new new Anti trust. Problems are mostly related to technology industry as some kind of infrastructure things, but this is Psych really old school in a way ready, it's not identical to, but it really reminds me of this sort of classic populist era. Battles were, you would have independent farmers, but in effect the railroads are short of they control. The chop point trite at which the access to the market provides and what kind of responsibilities can be can be put on them. Of course, this has all been structured by the sort of the gospel of concern.
Welfare and, whatever you may say about the meat industry in the United States at chicken is really cheap. So on that level is working. Right is very cheap on that level and it could be cheaper. I think either some people who would make arguments that if you you broke up some of these monopolies in you might be able to get it down, but it also cheap because a regulatory capture, so in addition to the old school observe farmers in under the thumb of of on bottleneck to them, sign their their wares. You have the additional problem with all the rules over safety are being set by the Us Department of Agriculture,
which I think especially to trumpet, even under under Obama. Joseph Daniel degree you was made up by people were very sympathetic to and often worked alongside people in these farms, and so one of the main determinants of how many chickens you get out our lines, be instead, how many chickens kept processed per minute and oppressed implant that set by the federal government and, if or lower all these companies and make less money and chicken probably be a little bit more expensive by it would be a lot safer for workers, and so there is there is both the Anti trust story which I imagine probably pushes up chicken prices a bit on. Margin, but then this much bigger story where there are able to get really cheap chickens and produce a lot of them by using regulatory levers, and so why? What does a world look like, broadly speaking, in which we are taking these different problems more seriously way in which we are again oh forcing you to use
bless less damaging ways of disposing of the waste letting you run these lines as expressed. B is not letting you use. Antibiotics as such crotch refer the sort of overcrowding of of animals like. What's the what's the upshot of this sure I'm. So there are a few different. Strategies for us are big large scale, reform, one that that has run I've written a bit about. Is this effort in this by Elisabeth, wore an inquiry Booker to explicitly try to phase out what are called key foes or concentrated animal feeding operations, which is basically what the EPA and the USDA Call Factory farms above a certain size. Allowing them in allowing them. Knowing what we know about their health risks is a choice. It's it's. A policy decision has been made over many decades, but we side and would decide if that bill past, that that we're going to cap the size of of
operations at a level where we can be assured of worker safety of responsible waste disposal. That would certainly reduce the profit margins for these companies. It might reduce the price increase the prices and I think the main argument you're here from these companies, if, if it actually becomes alive political issue in the Senate and is so far you really going to raise the price of chicken for Europe for your constituents by there are a lot of friend regulatory worlds. You can imagine, and one based more on service, a jefferson in german farmer model where we get our meat from some. All providers at lower scale and higher cost is definitely possible. I think that would be desirable and I think it would avert a lot of the harms that were crackling the season
but it would be a big change and I hope we re conveying the scale of the change that that would entail with yet I mean I think this using a really does a great job of capturing the sort of range of issues that are in play here. We have, as you have a lot of several different kinds of animals that are raised for livestock, and you know the issues that they pose are each distinct, but there's no. I mean thing that I think you re really learn here. If If you put me up so distant like there's, no does not free lunch. So to speak. Right like what you get, you can look at one thing you can look at climbing the cows are really bad or you. Look at the diseases there, chickens really bad it, but it's like
though the way that we are producing meet it just involves neglected in a lot of downsides in pursuit of really large quantities of really cheap me yeah. I that's really call this super interesting. We are going to take a break now and then we're gonna come back with the first episode of the new season. I hope you guys will enjoy it and will listen to the rest. I am so thank you so much done and a sick that break If you're, a gig worker or self employed, there's some good news about PPP loans, you might want to consider millions of self employed workers may qualify for up to fifty thousand dollars in one hundred percent. Forgivable loan you might be one of those millions as the leader PPP allowance wobbly can help you find out. They have helped over three hundred thousand small
businesses across Amerika, get a ppp loan funds are limited, so apply now wildly dot com, slash, vocs and see if you qualify for a ppp loan, W O m p l, why dot com, Slash, veo ex wobbly, not a lender terms and programme rules apply. Port, for this episode comes from visa. Helping. You re think how you drink it is a web based program that works by helping you notice the negative thought patterns. You might experience in your relationship to alcohol, and then it gives you the tool. You need to break those patterns. Rooted in weight of behavioral therapy for veto is designed to help you prepare for the future by arming you with techniques, to help you drink class, it's totally private one, percent web based. So you can act they're from anywhere you can,
visa risk free with sixty day money back guarantee. Now, at U s dot for visa dot com, Reverend Owen skip with schedules for life around a smell she wakes up and goes to check for it. Almost like the weather opened the door the sea the older is out there. Ok, it's not out there. There is anything that I have to do outside just more de la rate, delete anything that I have to do out there. I tried a her up and do it why the order is not their calls once the older get started, you cannot go outside. You have to keep your windows closed and you have to keep the door was closed. So did the Oda does not get in the house? This odor is the smell of hog waste from giant industrial hog operations in its common
now in counties across Eastern North Carolina. The state is the third largest producer of swine in the. U S after more than nine million pigs, others pigs generate a lot of waste and that waste generates the oder. The people like Ella have to live with for decades now they ve struggle together their yards for barbecues or to hang their laundry outside it seems pretty terrible. So when the people in these communities decided to protest against this odor Were they not heard from the box? Media pack has network I'm Dylan Matthews. This is the third. In a future perfect. This isn't worth exploring how the meat we eat affects us all, because the but he does system we ve created to produce cheap meat has consequences for everybody.
Over the course of the season will look at the consequences for animals for the climate, for worker safety and for health, but today we're looking at what hugged firms have meant for the health and environment in North Carolina communities and we'll see just tell her it is to fight for changes in our meat is produced. The fight against hug ways to North Carolina has come for a bunch of different corners, Titulary Baldwin his corner is the invite back in two thousand to Larry became one of North Carolina River keepers, someone who monitors water quality in a river I was this river keeper lower. These were Ebro because there is an upper neutrality, nuth Flake news.
Any you as the part of wearies river keeping involved, paying close attention to hug farms and their effects on his river, and to do that, he had to understand exactly how they were disposing of waste and why it might be a problem. He gave us a run down of a typical hog operation These were not farms out of a story book and I even everyone how many of you have seen the movie Charlotte with how many of you cried just a little bit. Ok, that's not that's not how we raise our meat anymore. Take pig meat, for example, picture Julie kept a long, long building its dark in its crowded with thousands of takes inside you'll. Forgive me Larry's going to walk you through some very gross man. One org one at all hawk produced is between eight
ten times the amount of people matter per day as a human, that's eight to ten times as much Pooh. So if you take a facility of five thousand pigs and you do the math. That's a town or city of fifty thousand people, fifty thousand people's worth the poop every single day, and that waste is not dealt with the way our waste is dealt with in This is what I referred to as an archaic system. It's called the lagoon sprays, the old system. So imagine this long labelling five, long a floor has opened flat in it, So when they delegate or urinate it falls through those slots. Into an area underneath a building. It goes through a pipe out into what they call a lagoon. I say the word Levu, probably what comes to mind. Is this place and the Caribbean were looked pretty Ladys, that around ambiguities, drinkin tequila, these will be
things are not that they are cesspools, they are open pits of feces any They can be the size of a football field. Millions of gallons. Those open pits of waste have a powerful smell it is horrendous, if you ever really want to get on a serious weight loss programme, don't worry about sleep, lower whatever every before you're ready go set beside a how accessible it. Is that overwhelming this part of the source of the or in the community. But also these pick operations are literally just spraying this waste into the ere, the weighty car visualize, you know the back yard brain for their ill with oscillation bills round a servile now imagine one of those with a paper several inches in diameter and so shooting this waste into the air, so you-
Now you got that missed. That in here but now also landing on the ground. The hook operations argue that bacteria break down the poop and the lagoons making suitable as fertilizer, and so there sprain at on the fields in order to recycle the nutrients, and they say that they're doing it responsibly, but Larry worries about run off, he's measured, dangerous levels of fecal matter in the water. He said open pits of waste flood after storms, spilling poop everywhere has devoted a lot of time and energy to document in these problems, while promotion tell his do well. Don't everybody now back in two thousand Larry was preparing his wife for their third wedding anniversary. I said I got a special day land for you. So we went to lunch, unless lunch and then Larry introduced an extra surprise change your clothes were good for a about ride. What we do
and took her out counting dead fish. There appeared a massive fish die off, linked to farm run off and is Larry explain to my producer bird. He really needed to know how many fish were dead for public health reasons have to go when it happens. And here is one of the biggest differences between what we do have way way way way way I thought I could kind of get past that pretty quick and just keep going, but you let that happen are you clearly Larry was very committed to his job. And yet, in spite of all these efforts and sacrifices for his research, but wasn't getting much traction, he sent his findings to the state, but they continued issuing permits to hog operations and where he wasn't, the only one who is frustrated are the only one doing research,
a community organizer New Niimi Mohammed was also collecting information, along with the scientists named Steve Wing There will never be another thirty wing a rich white man, Then we can these have a right they have re- says they have them. Understand what was happening to them Stevenson's passed away. But he should name that factory farms are not evenly distributed throughout the state. There are people who live close to not just one of these pig operations and their lagoons of waste, but several of them and those lagoons are clustered in countries that are forty to fifty percent blackened hispanic, and we found I get with no mistake, can't days whether communities, the least amount.
Economic power and political clout to file of these industries. When amen, Steve found a connection between pig farms and black and brown communities, they wanted to. Let people now name had spent most of her life. Organizing communities for social justice causes, so she had a plan, should drive out two different counties and ask people if they already had an organization that was talking. At the way, spray and she'd record their stories every time they spread at low goom, do I at the world Maya S own is terrible, and here my eyes pauper nice run water, you
start running water. You still coughing gagging so like you want to throw up. You know in China how you bring to, at the same time, trying to get to and from your destination tellin me not drink water down with it don't wisely and pass, but dont. Let me out drinking steep would also your stories. This is from a lecture he gave before his death. People told me about contaminated wells. The stench from hog operations that woke them at night and children who are mocked at school for smelling like hog ways, the wing community members complained to the Haug. Farmers name is says that they were told that the farms we're having no effects that their kids asthma, for example, probably came from the and with TAT soon amen. Steve wanted to help people prove. There was a problem now one thing. We have to remember that this was bad,
and appear were that rebuilding trust researches. Many still don't because of the legacy of twentyth century studies like Tuskegee, where doctors withheld proven syphilis treatments from their black patients for forty years just to see what would happen to them name and Steve asked the community to help them design their experiments. So they would tell us they need it and the empty at last it down and try to think How do we get to what you need? you know why I agree that no, while I get enough he ate at drew up and in that way, help shape the research ultimately They designed to study to monitor sixteen neighborhoods. They gave each participant a journal, a kit with equipment like a blood pressure machine at times
let us be flown leader and tubes for saliva samples steam would take readings in the area. They give a sense of how much hydrogen sulfide was in the air and the operations were sprain and when they weren't and the participants would go out twice a day and record their own experiences in the door. They read the smell. Take their blood pressure breathed into a machine that recorded information about their lungs, and I will give this elaborate samper staff. It were tat, tight, think it in the freezer. What did we find levels of gases and particles recorded by the pollution monitors were related to read
Pretoria, symptoms, lung function, irritation of the eyes and knows stress and anxiety and residents ability to engage in daily routine activities? They also did studies linking hog farms to hypertension, asthma, mental health issues. The national poor council has, since commissioner report, pushing back on Steve Wings finding that communities of color we're disproportionately impacted the cushion the size of the radius around farms that he selected to measure impact. They also objected to how Steve sourced participants for his studies from the community and pointed out that only a small fraction of participants raided the oder as very strong, but given the relationship, this research found between odor and health issues, it seems clear. It's not great, for communities have giant
imports of waste nearby, especially if your periodically sprain that waste into the air so name and Steve, or fighting their fight and feeling frustrated and back on the lower River Larry Baldwin was doing his river keeper thing, counting dead fish on his wedding anniversary and taking samples, but frustrated. We knew that the Wanna keep a journey river keepers, I can live with that and ran away the North Carolina, the day will always have an impact on the water. In the end, when the fish at my word about impact that no human being as we saw them flung them more in there We are again talk in the bad. We started seeing this marriage up to two different points of view:
name. Is organization formed a coalition with Larry Baldwin's river keepers in water keepers and also with the local group cofounded by a community act vis named Yvonne Hall together. They started lobbying the North Carolina legislature for change hard into seven now you man, Divine, took a group of people down to the state capital and rally they gave the ledge. Waiters all their scientific documentation. We give him copies of a dvd name, are put together with community members stories and they built a mock hog farm on the lawn outside the legislature. It had too little hog houses, it had the roof pulled back, so he could see the hogs in their cages inside it had to did, he was filled with forty gallons of people travelling round his neck and you came over that as well. We don't Town uneasy, word: yeah man, drought,
now here Gonna. Have the new organisations, thousands of them the clean up because within The call in has man because of the ways we found TAT the way really We know tat because We loaded on the truck it was again. Remember that's what the hog operations called it to justify sprain it on the healed tat. We now understand we dwell with one and now that the role- and now you tell us is TAT the way instance. Hot operations were sprain this week attic fertilizer near homes, name as my colleague operation had an irrigators brain waste into the air. The legislators complained about the smell it They discuss them really only found a gown, but you
amendment. No nineteen million times this death every year, So you know we shall see what your problem is so, but their combined for says Larry and now EMA divine we're trying to become something that the legislators and a hog operators couldn't just ignore, because at one point, the EU? They just have to worry about these crazy environmental is over here. And they had to worry about these environmental justice. Those over here I'll crowd now learn together their working together and now they're starting to bring in attorneys and Mary Engelman Lotto and I worked at earth Justice, which is a nation wide not for I've had a low marry a lush she's forgot. More about some stuff- and I were no she's just back intelligent and
as you can tell her. I said that maybe I had actually been interested in the problem with hog farms and waste for a while, and now she was coming to know. Carolina, help Larry and now, and everybody else, you'd been fighting for such a long time so after the break, what happens when Naima and Larry and Devon, and Marianne all combined forces if the last year has taught us anything, it's that we don't know what will happen next, but there's one thing we can all be sure of the only future. When we can all share and leading the charge in building that future his mercy core with over forty years of humanitarian work under its belt building together. Mercy course. Dna and, as the climate crisis increases their partnering with those on the front lines.
Making resources more accessible to farmers across the globe, string in community is against escalating natural disasters and ensuring people have the tools they need to thrive mercy course doing the work of matters, but they can't do it alone. That's reunite coming together, I'll. Have the power to reshape the world when it seems like every day brings a new crisis when every newsdealer makes you want to throw your phone across the room. We may say feel a little powerless mercy Corps, here to remind us. We don't need to Turkey merely based action. We can make change. We are nothing if not in this together. What's next is up to all of US learn how you can be a part of what is possible at mercy core dot org. That's, our see y see p s dot org
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sponsored by better help and listeners. The weeds get ten percent off their first month at better help. Dot com, slash weeds, get started today, better help, dot com, slash weeds visit, better hd, L, p d, calm, slash, weeds and joined the over one million people who have taken charge of their mental health with the help of an experienced better help professional Balkan back in there twenty tonnes. Marian laughter's legal profit gave her permission to spend some time and energy on hot farms and their environmental impact. So she came to North Carolina to meet with with and Larry and Larry, and they had a budget. I think Negative one the time I call them. I remember they had no gas money in money continued to be a problem over the years dictated where they would get
gather so for an important meaning and twenty thirteen. We met at the favourite pizza hut that is often exit the highway, so it was near to everybody ass. We sat in the back of the pizza, hurt Marian help them think through their options, Shetland one potential approach. There was a little unusual, basically many and thought they get hit the state instead of the Haug farms. Every five years the hawk farms would go to the department of environmental Quality and North Carolina and say: can we have a permit saying our hog farms are safe, please and state would say sure people complain waterways are being polluted. Are areas polluted? We have ass. My is all this research coming out, and yet the state just keeps churning out the same permit every five years. Without sufficient protections for people's health, be you could start a transformation. A wave from Laguna Spray failed
You could do a lot of things you could do, but they were doing any of those things they were just turning out. The same permits in that was where, According to Marianne, the state was breaking a central tenet of civil rights law, because the state was getting money from the Environmental Protection Agency federal money and the civil rights law was clear. Any department giving that federal money could not be doing things that her people of one race more than another, and if the state was giving out permits that hit black and brown communities harder than other communities in that desperate impact was avoidable than they were discriminated. Therefore, in Marion's logic, under the law, the EPA should stop giving North Carolina money, but it was
cheese, pizza and exciting plans. I did not have high hopes at the time that it would get us very much. Marian was a realist. She can only think of one time that the EPA had ruled that a department was discriminating, even though she could think of lots of potential examples of environmental racism and even if they did hence the EPA than they have to do more work, but the state to make changes which would be a whole other struggle. And so I think there is no way to be irresponsible lawyer or advocate and talk a client or community and raise expectations that it's going to be effective. He presented the option and, over the course of more meaning. Give my and vine and Larry time to think about whether or not they wanted to pursue it. Slight beauty. Ask me twice
not because of a rather rouser. It's a passion. For me. This was the approach they all wanted to take. That was six years ago. That we went through it was a long long slog. First, the lawyers had to collect all the studies that had been done in one place and all the commons people had left on past permits the social scientists soar involved. The epidemiologist were involved, the water keepers were involved and residents were involved in giving statements. The statements were risk because some people's names, on the record, members who have spoken out have felt threatened retaliation because The thing and I read it means that,
The years people told EPA officials that they had been tailgating, yell that confronted in parking lots and threatened with guns and physical violence. For speaking up, one woman said that someone connect to a hog operation, had come in and shaking her mother in her chair and threatened her family, and since these port plants create thousands of jobs in these counties, Larry says that there was also community pressure, to rock the boat. These are some of the bravest people I know because, still have to live in
communities, but once they gathered all the evidence and presented it, they had a real stroke of success. In January of twenty seventeen, the EPA wrote, what's called a letter of concern. It cited Steve's research about the effect that the Haug operations were having a nearby communities, especially communities of color, and it recommended that the North Carolina Department of environmental quality rethink the permits that it gave to swine operations for the team. This letter was fantastic, but they still had to have settlement talks with eight of North Carolina to figure out what changes the state would be willing to make those talks stretch out four months. Well, they were like a night near me. There's been Pulitzer Prize Winning reporting on the close ties between North Carolina politicians and the pork industry.
And in the talks, both name and Larry thought of the state was too cosy with the pork interests this scenario, more than once a thing we give way our breath, eventually, the settlement did come through elements by their nature. Compromises nobody's super happy with all the results just what they did get. We did get air monitoring water monitoring and they got the state to agree to make some changes to the draft of the new hog operation permits. So that's a tremendous accomplishment through this process, for both the state an end for the community, but did we go out and buy champagne for everyone now, there's just so much more to do. This whole fight was over the lagoon and Springfield Systems in the Haug, operations can keep their lagoons, they can still spray waste
In the settlement, the North Carolina Department of environmental quality was clear that they did not think there earlier permits, violated civil rights law or disproportionately impact. If communities of color, the National Poor Council put out a report, arguing that the EPA letter of concern is based on Steve Wings findings. In their view, those means for flood. The department of environmental quality has done new air quality studies. They found that there are times when levels of gases like hydrogen sulfide the air are above average, but not high enough for them to intervene. We reached out to them for comment on this hurry and they pointed to their new air and water monitoring controls and the new permit drafts as signs of progress. Tonight, EMA and Larry after so many hours and so much work. This is a little hard to
tat. We were not bad at all costs with very good stronger. It needs to have been but there are causing US bones hears about ghosts. Those technical aren't you honest, bone shut up is always the way it fell to me. So I wish I could adequately in a very short sentence, describe what it's like to in this mess. Frustration is probably the best work, first Jane and then pissing me off. There's discouragement. There's frustration, sometimes there's anger, but But my wife has asked me before it? Would you do this all over again without a doubt, I had granddaughters. If they ve got my way again. We tie you alibi. Tired
here's what you down. We tie you just there every time I walk into a grocery store. I walked past stacks and stacks of pork and chicken and beef, and since the vast majority of the meat we eat in the. U S comes from factory farms like the ones in North Carolina, there's a good chance that those pork chops and chicken drumsticks left a trail of waste behind them, and so for. The e g, the way we do when we go into leave market. We need thing about who's, paying the price then import cheap meat, Wiki get I'm not gonna sit here and tell you or your listeners that they have to become vegetarian out. Have that right? I at least try to illustrate a you what's happening to get that poor on your plate and- and
responsibility you have for it being there. There are seven more episodes to come all about how the meat we gets to our plane so keep listening. For now, this episode was produced and co reported by Bird Pinkerton edited by emitters, Dasa her home Sir Seagal Samuel and me don't Matthews Gillian wine Berger is the senior producer of this show in jeer at Paul mixes. It William Mitchell Lena fact check this episode. Endless Nelson is the executive producer for Vocs podcast. I will skip with interview in interviews with other residents. All came from Niimi Mohammed Video, the rest of the story, thanks to her and to Acacia Dogan,
Marianne Engelman Lotto now directs the environmental Justice Clinic Vermont LAW school thanks to her into in fact, a more as from the year was a text in animals programme who advised us thanks also to keep daily in law or in Cannes music into separate from p M Reciprocity party to bear little Classmen and Jared Tom. This podcast is made possible thanks to port from animal charity, evaluators they research and promote the most effective ways to help animals, and if you like, this podcast we're gonna be covering this topic. A lot more, in fact, were hiring editor, to help us do that we ve gotta linked to future perfects future.
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Transcript generated on 2021-05-15.