North Carolina Nuisance Lawsuits against Hog Producers Set Concerning Precedent for Pork IndustrySat, 08 Sep 2018 11:57:35 CDT
A Texas-based trial lawyer has brought 26 lawsuits against North Carolina hog producers, one defendant in particular connected with Smithfield Foods, claiming the farms are a nuisance to their surrounding neighbors. Three of the cases have been argued and the juries in each case have found the court in favor of the plaintiffs- which collectively have been awarded over $548 million in damages attributed to production related odor, dust, flies, etc. The remaining 23 cases are still waiting to be litigated. Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays reached out to RoyLee Lindsey, executive director of the Oklahoma Pork Council, this week for his take on the events unfolding in North Carolina and what impact these legal battles will have on the industry as a whole. Listen to their complete conversation by clicking or tapping the LISTEN BAR below at the bottom of the page.
“What we’re seeing is farms that have been in operation for some 30+ years completely in compliance with the rules and laws of the State of North Carolina, never a complaint filed on anything, suddenly being sued. And, juries are saying ‘yeah, you’re a nuisance because you’re a farmer,’” Lindsey said. “That’s really what it amounts to.”
Lindsey states the obvious that with hog production comes odor and dust and noise.
“We haven’t figured out how to keep that from happening anywhere in the world,” he remarked, “and yet we’re having juries award multimillion dollar verdicts against the industry. At the end of the day, the result has been that those farms are just no longer in business.”
However, the ultimate consequence of these decisions will come at the cost of the consumer Lindsey says.
“As we look down the road and you start thinking about your ability to walk into a grocery store to buy a package of bacon or to buy some pork chops- think about what happens when that package isn’t there for you to get,” he says. “Or, when you get prices significantly higher because we’re having to add technology that is not economically feasible for the farms or reducing herd sizes because we’re having to move farther from where other people might be. All of those things will ultimately have an impact on the consumer.”
Lindsey argues that this situation sends a very hostile message and sets a very concerning precedent for the pork industry.
“When you’re the farmer and you’re doing everything the law says you’re supposed to do and suddenly a jury says you’re a nuisance to your neighbor - I think there’s a problem there,” Lindsey concluded. “That should be a concern for everybody, especially those that like to eat meat.”
WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI
Top Agricultural News