Friday, April 27, 2018

Verdict in suit against stinky pig farm worries pork industry

"American pork producers could be in trouble, after a North Carolina test case awarded more than $50 million in damages to the neighbors of a hog farm for the nuisance it causes them," David Meyer reports for Fortune magazine.

The 10 plaintiffs who live near Kinlaw Farm in Bladen County complained that the stink was so bad that they couldn't enjoy outdoor activities, had to keep their windows shut, and had burning and watery eyes and nausea from the smell and flies. Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, owns Kinlaw Farm. Smithfield, owned by China's WH Group, is the world's largest pork producer. The jury ordered Murphy-Brown to pay each plaintiff $75,000 in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

The company says it will appeal, and "These lawsuits are an outrageous attack on animal agriculture, rural North Carolina and thousands of independent family farmers who own and operate contract farms. These farmers are apparently not safe from attack even if they fully comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations."

The case was considered a trial balloon that could be used as a precedent in similar lawsuits. The same plaintiffs' lawyers are involved in a case set for trial next month. Other pig-farm nuisance cases are scheduled for later this year, Meyer reports.

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