Oklahoma Pork Council Chief Reacts to HSUS Lawsuit Threat Against ProducersWed, 11 Jul 2012 22:07:16 CDT
The Humane Society of the United States sent letters to 17 hog operations in Oklahoma notifying them of their intent to file lawsuits against them over alleged environmental reporting issues. The affected farms in Oklahoma are owned by three corporations who have been targeted in the past for their use of gestation stalls for sows in their operations. (Click here for related story.)
Roy Lee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council reacted to the threat made against members of his organization.
“These are allegations that we did not file a report. We are not talking about environmental harm. We’re talking about filing a report with someone. I would question what is an animal welfare organization, an animal rights activist group, doing pursuing environmental litigation? As a charitable organization that is set up to do animal rights work, I don’t know how this fits into their tax-free status on the environmental side.”
Lindsey said he doesn’t see any basis for the lawsuits given the fact that Oklahoma pork producers have been working with the EPA to develop air quality standards for years.
“Our producers are some of the best in the country at taking care of the environment and following the rules. We’ve been engaged in ongoing research with EPA as a partner on air emissions for years. We finished up the science part of that research about two years ago, and we’re waiting for EPA to come out with guidance and documentation on what size farms need reporting and when do they need to report and how do they do that reporting.
Lindsey said he believes the HSUS’s threat of environmental lawsuits against pork producers is another tactic in an ongoing battle the organization has been pursuing with the livestock industry for years.
“So a lot of this is smoke and mirrors, if you will. They’re using it, they’re very unhappy with the pork industry because we’re opposed to federal law that sets farm animal production standards by way of the egg bill in this case. So they’re trying anything they can to put pressure on the National Pork Producers Council and on other members of the pork industry to get us to give them what they want which would be to give up gestation stalls or to get out of the way and let them finish up the egg bill.
“And so this is less about the environment and more about their agenda of doing away with gestation stalls and ultimately doing away with people eating meat than it is about the environment.”
The majority of the HSUS teleconference was devoted to justifying their efforts to pressure retailers, restaurant chains, distributors and compliant pork producers into giving up gestation stalls. The speakers attempted to draw parallels between the reporting requirements they allege were violated and the use of gestation stalls.
Lindsey said the rationale didn’t wash with him.
“If I’ve got 200 sows in group housing in a barn or I have 200 sows in individual housing in a barn, it doesn’t change the emissions in any way shape or form. So this is all about gestation stalls and it’s about their agenda to move away from individual sow housing and into what HSUS believes is the better system.
“It’s very similar to what they’ve done to the United Egg Producers for years. ‘We’ll file lawsuit after lawsuit. We’ll tie you up in court. We’ll run up your costs. We’ll make you spend money.’ And none of it, really, is in the line of better animal care.”
Lindsey said his members are standing fast in their belief that producers down on the farm know best what they are doing and what they will continue to do.
“Our producers start every day with the goal of taking care of their animals and providing the best possible care. The person who is best qualified to make those decisions is the person who works with those animals every day. And it’s not somebody sitting in an office in Virginia and it’s certainly not someone who works for the government. And that’s why NPPC has been opposed to the egg bill. That’s why the Oklahoma Pork Council has been opposed to the egg bill. And that’s not going to change.”
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Roy Lee Lindsey's full comments on the HSUS lawsuit threats.
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