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Eastern North Carolina residents file complaints about Smithfield Foods hog farms

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STANTONSBURG, N.C. -

Folks in the East are speaking up about the stench of nearby hog farms, saying it ruins their quality of life.

According to the Raleigh News & Observer, nearly 600 people filed complaints on July 3 against the owner of the hogs, Smithfield Foods, the world's largest pork producer, at the Wake County courthouse.

Don Webb, 73, of Wilson County, is one of those complainants. He says he smells a "horrible odor" from the nearby hog farm on Sand Pit Road near Stantonsburg in Greene County, owned by Smithfield Foods.

"We are tired, that live out here in the country, of forced to live in the bondage of feces and urine," said Webb. "We're the third minority in America. The Indians were first, the African Americans were second, and the rural people have no say-so."

Back in March, the Division of Water Quality came to the farm on Sand Pit Road, Stantonsburg Farms, Inc. after a complaint by the Neuse Riverkeeper Alliance and Webb. Murphy Brown owns the land and is a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

The DWQ is now demanding the farm pay a more than $5,000 penalty for pollution.

But Webb says the stench hasn't gone away.  It even affects business at his 500 acre fish camp nearby, Lake Wiley.

Some camp members have complained about the stench of the nearby hog farm, but Webb says there's not much he's been able to do about it.

"We are just simple Americans. And we are not millionaires. We don't have the money to fight the millionaires with," said Webb.

And that fight might get even harder. The News & Observer says state lawmakers are considering the law so that complainants who lose in court must pay the hog farmers' legal costs.

9 On Your Side reached out to Smithfield Foods for comment. Their spokesperson, Keira Lombardo, would only say the company has received the complaints and is evaluating them.

The nearly 600 complaints mean that complainants and Smithfield will enter a mediation process.  The News & Observer says if that fails, the complainants will file full-blown lawsuits.

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