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Flood Vulnerability Assessment of Eastern North Carolina Industrial Swine Operations Using GIS Methodologies

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2021 ASABE Annual International Virtual Meeting  2100703.(doi:10.13031/aim.202100703)
Authors:   Jacqueline S Welles, John J Classen
Keywords:   Food, Vulnerability, swine, GIS methodologies, North Carolina, Industrial, Hogs

Abstract. North Carolina represents the third largest pork-producing state and is home to one of the most concentrated industrial swine regions in the world. Across the state‘s more than 2,200 permitted hog operations, an estimated 10 billion gallons of waste is produced each year and managed via the lagoon-sprayfield system common to the eastern United States. This coastal portion of NC where the vast majority of swine concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) reside is low-lying and highly susceptible to flooding from large precipitation events. Unfortunately, these high precipitation events are a well-documented mechanism by which significant amounts of hog waste can be released into the surrounding environment via inundated or breached waste lagoons. Major weather events in the southeast region are only increasing in frequency and intensity, raising major concerns regarding public and environmental health and the overall long-term sustainability of the North Carolina hog industry. Few studies have been published on the continuing flood vulnerability of NC‘s hog industry, especially in terms of addressing and allocating resources toward reducing flood vulnerability of lagoons. This study poses a new and more robust method for identifying the most flood-vulnerable operations in Duplin and Sampson counties than what is currently used for state-funded swine farm easement programs via several GIS techniques. This research intends to be used as a tool for NC decision-makers who are responsible for allocating resources toward managing the most flood-vulnerable farms in the state.

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