North Carolina is looking to expand the buyout of hog farms in flood-prone areas of the eastern part of the state, according to published reports.

Under a plan to offer the buyout program again, the state's Division of Soil and Water Conservation is seeking more than $18 million in federal and state grants that would clear the way for 44 additional buyouts.

Reports say the division has applied for more than $6 million from the Clean Water Management Trust Fund. Those grants will be announced in November. The division is also working with U.S. Senator John Edwards, D-N.C., for an additional $12 million to $15 million from the USDA.

The buyout of 15 swine operations came after three successive hurricanes flooded hog lagoons in eastern North Carolina almost two years ago. When the state offered the program the first time, it got 85 requests from farmers seeking a buyout. It had expected 25 to 35.

Under the buyout, hog farmers would be required to set aside at least 20 acres for conservation easements. Farmers would also have to establish a 35-foot buffer of forest along the streams.

Expected to cost some $433,000 per farm, the buyouts include $320,000 for each farmer's certificate to operate and $80,000 to clean up each lagoon, reports say.