Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Jobs Plus Economic Dollars With Effective Hog Waste Management

Jul 10: Environmental Defense released an economic analysis which they say shows that "North Carolina can gain the equivalent of 7,000 jobs and add $10 billion to its economy if the hog industry moves from open-air lagoons to innovative systems for treating swine waste." They said the study confirms that public and private investment in innovative waste systems will bring economic benefits for both farmers and the communities that surround them. The study provides further evidence that incentives and cost-share programs can help make new systems that protect the environment and public health affordable for farmers.

Joe Rudek, senior scientist with the NC office of Environmental Defense said, "This study should end debate over the affordability of cleaner systems and refocus efforts to get these systems on the ground and develop markets for byproducts. Bottom line is that the hog industry will remain economically strong, and communities will become healthier places to live and work. Now policy makers have reliable data showing that incentives and cost-share programs can help make cleaner waste systems affordable for all farmers. Public investment in cost-share programs will deliver big benefits to North Carolina, especially to the eastern region of the state."

Tanja Vujic, an attorney with the NC office of Environmental Defense said, "This is good news for hog farmers and for communities. Economic progress and environmental progress go hand in hand. Lawmakers now have solid evidence to guide them in making North Carolina the cleanest hog-producing state in the country. It's time to sharpen the pencils and design meaningful programs to put innovative systems into farmers' hands."

The study was conducted by Wilbur Smith Associates in collaboration with the NC office of Environmental Defense. Wilbur Smith Associates is a leading provider of economics and market analysis consulting services to various government agencies, including federal, state, local and regional agencies, as well as private sector clients.

The primary focus of this study is to examine the macroeconomic impacts on North Carolina and specific regions of the state. This includes not only the direct economic effects but also the indirect economic effects stimulated by the installation of the innovative technology and the marketing of its byproducts. According to the report, "As North Carolina's hog farms install innovative technologies, they will incur costs associated with construction, operating and maintenance. They will also benefit from the net income generated from producing and selling byproducts such as fertilizers and alternative fuel from hog wastes. In addition, farms can receive credits as a result of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."

The study also considers the results for two financial support options, one where producers pay 25 percent of construction costs and the federal government pays the remainder (for example through a Farm Bill cost share program), and the other where producers pay all construction costs. The economic impacts are evaluated over the twenty years from 2007 to 2026.

The report concludes, "If all farms produced and sold container mix in bags (a soilless media used by nurseries and other plant rearing industries) an estimated increase of more than 141,000 jobs-years over 20 years would result (i.e. the equivalent of more than 7000 jobs on average) and the net present value over 20 years of an increase in gross regional product of approximately $10 billion."

Access a release from Environmental Defense (click here). Access the complete 45-page report (click here). [*Water, *Air, *Climate]