March 11, 2019

Smithfield again found responsible over 'nuisance' caused by hog operation


Smithfield Foods was once more found guilty of causing nuisances to neighbours in Duplin County, North Carolina, US, due to wastes generated by its local hog production site, Financial Post reported early this month.


It is the fifth time the company was found responsible for such a incidence. In  a five-week trial, 10 neighbours from Duplin County testified to the adverse activities attributed to Smithfield's operation, namely, a farm under the ownership of Joey Carter.

Carter himself was not sued, but, according to the ruling, the buck stops with Smithfield as its hog-raising division uses strict contracts to control how farm operators raise livestock that Smithfield owns.

Jurors at the trial heard about strong smells, clouds of flies and other negative conditions at the Duplin County operation which raised about 5,000 of Smithfield's animals. They then decided that the company should compensate the affected plaintiffs US$420,000. Previously, four other juries had awarded close to US$550 million in penalties.

In response, Smithfield slammed the verdict as "unfair and unjust," the company spokeswoman Keira Lombardo stated in an email. "It presents an unwarranted threat to North Carolina farm families and to all agriculture across the country," she added.

According to Smithfield, Carter hasn't had a revenue-producing hog on his farm since October last year. Furthermore, since May, the company stopped delivering new animals to the site.

Lombardo also highlighted payments to Carter and another operation as Smithfield attempts "to offset the adverse impact these lawsuits have on family farmers..."

- Financial Post