Hog farmers vow to fight odor lawsuits
Posted July 24, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Hog farmers connected to Smithfield Foods filed notice Wednesday in Wake County Superior Court that they plan to fight complaints from nearby residents of foul odor and pollution from their farms.
Hundreds of complaints were filed about three weeks ago, giving notice of potential lawsuits over the negative impact that living near a hog waste lagoon in eastern North Carolina has on property values and quality of life.
That legal action set up the possibility of mediation, but Murphy-Brown and affiliated farms in Duplin, Sampson, Bladen, Pender and Greene Counties have rejected mediation and vowed to fight the complaints.
"We view this as a money grab. This is an attack on good, honest, law-abiding farmers," Murphy-Brown spokesman Don Butler told WRAL News.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler said he hopes the industry wins the battle, noting that pork production accounts for more than $2.5 billion in farm income and about 46,000 jobs in North Carolina.
"Hog farmers help feed our state, nation and world while operating under heavy regulation," Troxler said in a statement. "It's a shame these hardworking families will likely be sued for pursuing their livelihood within the requirements of the law. I certainly hope the farm families and this important economic sector won't be damaged."
The state reached a settlement with pork producers in 2000 calling for environmental projects and research to improve the safety and operations of the lagoons. Farmers acknowledge little has changed in their disposal techniques since then because alternatives weren't economical.