2020 journal article
Sustainable Swine Manure Management: A Tale of Two Agreements
Sustainability, 13(1), 15.
Intensification and concentration of swine farming has provided economic benefit to rural communities but also negative environmental and human health impacts, particularly from the use of the lagoon-sprayfield system for manure management. Although cost effective, this system is susceptible to poor management, unpleasant odor and other emissions, and inundation during extreme weather events. Competition for manure-spreading acres with other livestock or encroaching development can also pose a problem. This study examines two agreements between industry and government designed to develop and implement improved manure management technologies for swine farms: a voluntary agreement between the attorney general of North Carolina and Smithfield Foods and a consent judgment between the State of Missouri and Premium Standard Farms. Individuals involved in executing these agreements were interviewed to gain insight from their perspective on those processes and lessons they learned from their experience. Common themes among participant responses to support transition processes included the need to involve multiple stakeholder groups, clearly define goals, understand the system, allow time for incremental change, and provide adequate “protected space” for technology development and implementation. Viewing these themes through the lens of multi-level perspective theory identifies leverage points throughout the system to support transitioning farms to a more sustainable path of manure management.