"People just can't ignore this," Naeema Muhammad with the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network told Environmental Health News. "The air stinks, the water is contaminated and property values are depleted."
North Carolina, the second-biggest hog producer in the country after Iowa, processes more than 4 billion pounds of pork every year. The swine industry holds major political capital in the state and has dismissed the study's findings. Smithfield Foods, the country's largest pork producer, owns and operates the largest slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant in the world, in Tar Heel, North Carolina. The company told Environmental Health News that the study "unfairly vilifies North Carolina's agricultural community."