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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Hog farmer is a self-identified environmentalist

Connor describes himself as an environmentalist in this excerpt: fifteen years ago, he installed an incinerator to avoid burying dead animals and thus contaminating drinking water. He resents environmentalists criticizing farmers from afar, but welcomes penalties for polluters.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James W. (Jim) Connor, December 19, 1999. Interview K-0818. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

CHARLES THOMPSON:
Well, let's keep it running and talk about what we said back on the farm. I was just half joking you talked about the environmentalists in sort of a negative sense. But then I said, 'You're kind of an environmentalist.' And you said, 'I am.'
JAMES (JIM) CONNOR:
You don't farm and not be a good steward of your land because you're cutting your own throat. That's like I told the fellow from the News and Observer when he was talking about. I said, 'I was the first one to put an incinerator in down here to burn dead animals rather than bury them because I was concerned about ground water.'
CHARLES THOMPSON:
This was before the flood?
JAMES (JIM) CONNOR:
Oh this was fifteen years ago. And then since now, we have these dumpsters. We can put the dead animals in the dumpsters and the truck comes by every day and picks them up and takes them to a rendering plant and process them and they go into animal feed for protein. Dog food, cat food, stuff like that, which is a lot better way to do it. I was burning them before that just because I did not want to pollute the ground water.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
You care about that creek up there, don't you?
JAMES (JIM) CONNOR:
I love that creek. My kids swam in there when they were little. I've got two houses there by Steve's. We've got a pier we'd dive in there and swim and have a good time. We'd eat the fish out of it. The ditches around here are the same thing. They feed into that creek. Why would I want to fool with it? I don't understand it. Most of the people raising the hell about this stuff, sit behind a desk dreaming about things. They're not out here living on the land. You'll getߞas far as like apples. You'll have one bad one every now and then make the rest of us look like a bunch of jerks. I justߞ.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do the jerks do? I mean, the ones whoߞ. They just don't spray at the right rates or something?
JAMES (JIM) CONNOR:
They had some guy in another county, it's been about a year ago. The Department of Water Quality does an annual inspection on every farm, and Soil and Water does an annual inspection on every farm. They don't comeߞthey come once a year unless they get a complaint. Then they'll come every day if they need to. You stand up to a $10,000 a day fine if you're causing a problem. You're pumping too much and causing run off and like that. You're not following your procedure. This guy had a farm, I'm thinking it's over somewhere around Newton, but I'm not sure. DWQ comes by to do his annual inspection. Well he's not there, and he's got people working. The guy comes around and he's checking his lagoon out and he says, 'When was the last time you pumped this lagoon?' He said, 'We ain't never pumped it.' The guy said, 'Well.' Well what had happened, he'd put an overflow pipe in that thing. It got so high and it went out this four-inch pipe and into the creek. They'd have never known that if that guy hadn't have said, 'We never pump that lagoon.' Then they started looking because they couldn't tell there was an overflow pipe. The water had it covered up. It was just seeping out. They got to looking and found out where it came out, and it was coming out of that black dike right there, and it was going right straight into the ditch. It ran into the Blue Line Creek. Thatߞ.
CHARLES THOMPSON:
What do you think ought to be done with that fellow?
JAMES (JIM) CONNOR:
Just exactly what they did. It cost him about $75,000 in fines, and they shut them down. He had to have the animals out of there within forty-eight hours. That's what they should've done. They ought to send him to jail. Ought to locked him up and throwed the key away. Man, you can't tolerate stuff like that. You can't do it.