After last week’s news that a North Carolina jury awarded $50 million to Murphy Brown/Smithfield neighbors, the National Pork Board wants the public to know the U.S. pork industry has a strong record in environment and sustainability efforts.
The verdict is the first in a series of cases brought against the world’s largest pork producer. In this case, the 10 neighbors of the 15,000 hog operation said the farm impacted their quality of life due to offensive odors and manure that was applied on nearby fields.
The National Pork Board says over the last decade, the U.S. has played a leading role in advancing animal agriculture’s environmental and conservation efforts. In a 50-year look-back completed by the University of Arkansas in 2012 — and which is currently being updated with data through 2015 — U.S. pig farmers had reduced land use by 78 percent, reduced water use by 41 percent, and had a carbon footprint that was 35 percent smaller. Preliminary data over just the past five years shows continued progress.
“Sustainability on the farm is an ongoing commitment by pig farmers today,” said Terry O’Neel, National Pork Board president and a Nebraska pig farmer. “As an industry, farmers are committed, through ongoing environmental sustainability efforts, to safeguard natural resources for future generations.”
Pig farms throughout the U.S. must carefully manage the manure that is produced, and do so according to the requirements of all environmental permits and regulations. Manure is a valuable nutrient resource for the production of all crops, and is applied to fields in accordance with agronomic needs of the crop and according to state and federal regulations.
“Pig farmers learn from the examples of others and we routinely share best practices,” said O’Neel. “That’s the motivation behind the development in 2008 of our We Care platform and its six ethical principles of production.”
We Care, which marks a decade of commitment this year, includes steps to:
• Produce safe food
• Protect and promote animal well-being
• Ensure practices to protect public health
• Safeguard natural resources
• Provide a safe work environment
• Contribute to a better quality of life in our communities
Smithfield Foods said they plan to appeal the verdict. A senior vice president of corporate affairs for Smithfield Foods, said in a statement that the “lawsuits are an outrageous attack on animal agriculture, rural North Carolina and thousands of independent family farmers who own and operate contract farms.”