As thousands gathered recently at the Events Center in Duplin County, most had the same goal in mind — defending the attacks that are being made against local family-farmers across the state.
According to the N.C. Farm Families website, family farmers have been under attack by anti-agriculture activist groups. Local farmers, as well as supporters of the family farms, attended the event with hopes of learning more about those who are making the attacks on the local farms.
Ronnie Jackson, president of the Sampson County Friends of Agriculture and a supporter of family-owned farms, said the rally focused the attention on the attacks that are being made, in which many of them are forcing families into bankruptcy because of the lawsuits being filed against some farms.
“We are all trying to show our support for the hog business,” Jackson said when contacted by phone. “There is a very plentiful supply of hogs in North Carolina.”
According to the supporters website, over 80 percent of North Carolina’s pork farms are owned and operated by individual farm families, who make the preservation of the environment, the humane treatment of their livestock and the well-being of the communities they live in top priorities.
Many of the activist groups are claiming the hog and other livestock industry is unsafe and unclean, resulting in lawsuits against the farm owners.
“Some people concentrate on the smell,” Jackson said. “A lot of things don’t smell good, but that doesn’t mean it’s a problem.”
Local family-farm owner Kim Piercy, who also attended the rally, is one of the many supporters taking a stand for those farmers who are just simply “trying to make a living.”
“These are unfair attacks against many farms,” Piercy said. “I understand having regulations and it’s important to have them in place. We need to look out for our farmers and make sure they are taken care of and not pushed down.”
The attacks, Piercy said, are simply uneducated attempts from people who are passing judgment on those who are family farmers like herself.
“I’d love to see people come together and educate themselves,” Piercy said. “It’s sad because this is one of our food sources. Many people don’t even realize where their food comes from.”
Family farms produce a high-quality, healthy, nutritious product that is in high demand in North Carolina, across the country and around the world. As a result of the attack, N.C. Family Farmers, Piercy said, was created to stand up and speak out in the family-owned farm’s defense.
“We need to look at how important hog farmers are to the economy,” Piercy said.
According to Jackson, livestock accounts for 70 percent of the total economy in the state and is a vital part of North Carolina.
“Farming is a life-saver for this part of the world,” Jackson stated. “A lot of families are supported by hog farming. Contract farming allows many farms to exist.”
On the N.C. Family Farmers website, ncfarmfamilies.com, visitors and supporters can sign a petition to help stop the attacks on the family-owned farms. The group, Piercy said, is trying to get more than 10,000 signatures.
To sign the petition or learn more about supporting family-owned farms, simply visit the website.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.