Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in North Carolina. Pollution of Soil, Air and Water In the Wake of the Hurricane

A Photo Gallery of What Happens When State Governing Bodies Allow Foreign or Out-of-State Corporations to Build Dangerous, Environment- and Water-(polluting) Businesses in Water-rich Environments


CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) are designed to economically grow meat-, milk- or egg-producing animals such as pigs, cattle or chickens by achieving maximum profitability by confining the suffering animals to unnatural, usually indoor facilities (for pigs and chickens) and not allowing them to graze like normal farm animals on healthful open fields. 

CAFOs require huge lagoons to store the fecal and urine waste material, which makes serious pollution of the soil, air and water (not only probable, but) inevitable. The lagoons are around 30 feet deep and the slaughterhouse waste contains a mixture of untreated feces, urine, blood, afterbirth tissue, stillborn pigs, bacteria, drugs and other chemicals. These lagoons commonly overflow when it rains or a hurricane hits. The confined animals usually drown in the worst-case scenarios. 

American CAFOs are already located in many American states and are owned and operated by huge environment-poisoning corporations such as Smithfield Foods, Tyson Foods, Swift & Company and Cargill (the four largest producers of animal meat in the US). 

Low wages are commonly paid to workers (many of whom are poor undocumented immigrants). Workers (and the confined animals) have to endure psychologically-traumatizing environments in addition to having to inhale toxic, disease-producing odors from fecal gases that include hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell), ammonia and the most toxic greenhouse gas on earth, methane. Anybody who has been to rural Iowa, where pig CAFOs abound, knows what I am talking about.

It is important to know that a private Chinese corporation purchased Smithfield Foods (the biggest pork producer in the world) for above-market prices in 2013. The deal amounted to 4.7 billion dollars. It allows a foreign nation to import some of its pork without having to endure the massive pollution and environmental degradation that accompanies the CAFO production process. 

A few years ago Wisconsin’s pro-corporate, anti-regulatory Republican Governor Scott Walker and his Republican administration seriously considered allowing a new pig farm/CAFO in an area of northern Wisconsin where effluents would flow towards Lake Superior. It was to be operated by a corporation from Iowa. Wisconsin already has CAFOs that are contaminating Lake Michigan, where fish kills, dead zones and algae blooms are common. Every CAFO require the construction of poisonous cesspool lagoons to store the farm animal waste. The proposed site was to be built in Wisconsin’s northern lakes area that so far have few, if any, dead zones.

Be aware that, in Minnesota, a number of foreign copper/nickel mining corporations that, just like the owners of the infamous CAFOs mentioned above, are close to being awarded permits to operate “experimental” sulfide mines in the water-rich northeast part of the state. 

Minnesota’s regulatory agencies and the business community are consciously ignoring the many catastrophic dangers of copper/nickel sulfide mines AND the massive earthen dam-contained waste storage lagoons that will contain billions of gallons of toxic waste tailings that will likely – at some time in the future – burst through the tall lagoon walls (in the case of the proposed PolyMet mine lagoon, up to 250 feet tall!) when the inevitable heavy rain occurs, allowing their eternally toxic contents to flow into previously pristine watersheds that ultimately drain into Lake Superior to the south and/or the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area to the north.

Below are some images of what happens to a state like North Carolina when it experiences a “100-year hurricane” like Florence (2018), Matthew (2016), Floyd (1999), Fran (1993) or some other catastrophic deluge that can easily happen even in the absence of a hurricane. To learn about the multitude of disastrous sulfide mining tailings lagoon failures around the world, click here.

Red dots represent one of the 2,100 Hog CAFOs in North Carolina. Note the concentration of the CAFOs in the Cape Fear estuary, which was hardest hit by Hurricane Florence (2018).

A North Carolina hog CAFO showing fecal and urine waste storage lagoons before Hurricane Matthew (2016).

For a powerful story in the Washington Post on Hurricane Matthew and North Carolina’s Hog Farm catastrophe after the disastrous flooding, click here.

Putrid sewage lagoons overflowing large CAFO lagoons after another North Carolinian flood.

A North Carolina CAFO after the flooding that made invisible the submerged lagoons with waste eventually entering rivers that drain into North Carolina’s Atlantic Ocean Dead Zone 

Two small North Carolina CAFOs after Hurricane Matthew (2016)

Submerged CAFO confinement buildings containing thousands of trapped, drowned and eventually rotting pigs that could not be rescued 

Some pigs that were released alive before they died drinking the poisoned, infectious, undrinkable water after finally being liberated from their horrid, life-long concentration camp existence. Most of their fellow pigs were trapped inside and drowned immediately

Cleaning up the rotting, bloated CAFO pig carcasses after another deluge. (Jobs, jobs, jobs)

Aerial view of the outlet of tiny Hazeltine Creek as it empties into Quesnel Lake (a once world-famous salmon fishery) at the head of the 600 mile-long Fraser River estuary that is now contaminated with 2.5 billion gallons of toxic sulfide mine waste (including sulfuric acid) that (was) disastrously discharged after heavy rains in 2014. The brown color represents the trunks of the huge trees that were up-rooted during the (flooding.) The diameter of some of the trees measured half the width of the original 6 foot-wide creek. The catastrophic event was British Colombia’s worst environmental disaster in its history.


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Dr Kohls, since his retirement from his holistic mental health practice, has been writing his Duty to Warn weekly column for the Duluth Reader, Minnesota’s premier alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns, which are re-published around the world, deal with the dangers of sulfide mining in northeast Minnesota, corporatism, militarism, racism, American Friendly Fascism, malnutrition, Big Pharma’s over-drugging and Big Vaccine’s over-vaccination agendas, as well as other movements that threaten human health, the environment, democracy, civility and the sustainability of the planet and the populace. Many of his columns are archived at a number of websites, including;; and

All images in this article are from the author.

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Articles by: Dr. Gary G. Kohls

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