Crackdown may be ahead for pig farms

October 11, 2023 | 10:57
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With thousands of pig farms that violate environmental rules still leisurely operating production and breeding activities, stronger sanctions may be required.
Crackdown may be ahead for pig farms
Contracted firms must be granted a licence to confirm compliance to environmental regulations, photo Le Toan

A fortnight ago, Dong Nai Department of Natural Resources and Environment sent a document to CJ Vina Agri and three other foreign-invested enterprises, requiring them to temporarily suspend their contracts with 328 outsourcing farms that have yet to complete environmental procedures.

Of these, CJ Vina Argi has the most farming contracts with 250, followed by C.P. Vietnam with 46, Sunjin Vina with 19, and Japfa Comfeed Vietnam with 13.

The southern province of Dong Nai is considered the country’s main farming region, with a total herd of more than 2.5 million pigs and a chicken population of over 26 million in nearly 1,500 large facilities and more than 22,200 small-scale farms.

The scale increases the likeliness of environmental-based violations. Earlier in the summer, Nguyen Tan Phat’s livestock farm in Thong Nhat district was criticised due to discharging wastewater and causing environmental pollution. The facility is used for CJ Vina Agri’s Dong Nai Branch.

An inspection found that the farm had 900 pigs, one biogas tank containing wastewater, and four post-treatment pits with wastewater overflowing into the environment. After analysis, they found that the treated wastewater was not good enough for environmental hygiene and did not meet technical regulations on livestock wastewater.

Phat’s livestock farm was given a VND48 million ($2,000) penalty, requested not to discharge untreated livestock wastewater into the environment, and required to cease livestock farming altogether. In May, the facility had sold 400 of its 900 pigs, and the local people’s committee requested that the remainder all be sold.

According to Thong Nhat People’s Committee, animal husbandry farms processing and constructing wastewater treatment facilities are not guaranteed, and most biogas tanks are overloaded. Wastewater storage pits are not waterproof and could lead to overflow into ditches and streams.

The 250 contracted farms of CJ Vina Agri in Dong Nai will have to supplement their environmental procedures and must be granted a licence to confirm their environmental compliance before returning to breeding.

In addition to Dong Nai, outsourcing farms of CJ Vina Agri were also blamed in other provinces across the country. Particularly, the majority of husbandry farms in Phu Nghia commune in Hanoi’s Chuong My district that are under contract with CJ Vina Agri have been accused of environmental violations.

Tran Manh Quang, a representative of CJ Vina Agri, said that the company wants to support livestock farmers to build technical infrastructure and protect the environment, but the costs are quite high, and the company is also worried about long-term cooperation falling through.

“If the owner of a farm builds a waste treatment system that is certified by a state agency as qualified and the farmer agrees to sign a 5- or 10-year livestock farming contract, we will consider a contribution to this cost,” said Quang.

The company requires farms to ensure environmental regulations, construction, land, and resource use but does not always check whether the farms are qualified to operate or not before signing a cooperation contract.

A leader of Phu Nghia People’s Committee said, “We can see some irresponsibility and negligence on the part of CJ Vina Agri in these cases.”

During inspections earlier this year, the farms in Phu Nghia commune did not provide environmental legal dossiers, and had no treatment system for wastewater before discharging into the environment. Some canals were deemed overly dirty and with a foul smell because numerous farms have discharged into them.

South Korean conglomerate CJ Group has invested into animal feed production since 1999. CJ Vina Agri delivers pork and chicken to most major supermarkets across the country like Lotte, GO!, King Food, Tmart, and GS25.

CJ Vina Agri’s website boasts that the company deals with more than 800 farms under the outsourcing contracts across Vietnam, and with a scale of herd up to one million pigs and one million chickens. The farms are installed with modern equipment, the breeding environment ensures safety and hygiene, and experts strictly manage the health of pigs, it adds.

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A big pig farm in the northern province of Ninh Binh is in the centre of a serious pollution scandal, with the owner refusing responsibility and the local authorities woefully lacking oversight to set matters straight.

Hundreds of CJ Vina Agri pig farms in Dong Nai must be shut down Hundreds of CJ Vina Agri pig farms in Dong Nai must be shut down

The Dong Nai authorities have mandated that CJ Vina Agri and three other foreign-invested enterprises must temporarily suspend their collaborations with 328 outsourcing farms that have yet to complete environmental procedures.

By Hara Nguyen

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