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Remembering Elsie Herring, An Activist Who Fought The Powerful Pig Industry

Elsie Herring.jpeg
Jo-Anne McArthur
Activist Elsie Herring, stands on the porch of her family home, holding a handkerchief over her mouth to filter out manure being sprayed on the field next door

On this edition of Your Call, we’re remembering Elsie Herring, an activist who fought North Carolina’s powerful pig industry. The country’s second largest pork producer, North Carolina is home to almost 10 million pigs. In Duplin County, where Herring’s family has owned land for more than 100 years, pigs outnumber people almost 40 to one.

In 2019, she told a US House committee: “When we go outside, we can’t stay outside for very long because the odor is so offensive that we start gagging, we start coughing, our heart rate (is) increased. We become depressed, we have a sense of hopeless- and helplessness.”

That same year, the American Public Health Association enacted a new policy statement advising federal, state, and local governments and public health agencies to impose a moratorium on all new and expanding factory farms. The policy recommends a complete halt until additional scientific data have been collected and any public health concerns associated with factory farms are addressed.


Naeema Muhammad, co-director of the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network

Hannah Connor, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity specializing in harms caused by factory farming and slaughterhouses

Web Resources:

The News & Observer: Elsie Herring dies: The hog-farm critic personified environmental justice for many

Quartz: The world eats cheap bacon at the expense of North Carolina’s rural poor

Civil Eats: North Carolina’s Factory Farms Produce 15,000 Olympic Pools Worth of Waste Each Year

Food & Environment Reporting Network: Here are the rural residents who sued the world’s largest hog producer over waste and odors – and won

Johns Hopkins: Nation’s Leading Public Health Organization Urges Halt to All New and Expanding CAFOs

Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.