Meeting with reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at USDA, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday that a court decision awarding neighbors of a North Carolina hog farm $50 million is “despicable.”  The contract hog farm is tied to Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield, which is Chinese-owned and the largest hog producer in the world.

Meanwhile, three meat industry groups and the American Farm Bureau Federation are criticizing last week’s $50 million jury award to neighbors of a hog operation that contracts with Murphy-Brown calling the verdict “a blatant assault on animal agriculture and on rural America.“

The joint statement from the National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Institute and the farm bureau warned that the decision, if replicated, will raise the price of food for consumers and hurt farmers at a time when they are adopting technology to increase sustainability. The verdict sets “a dangerous precedent that already is being used in other cases,” the groups said.

“The U.S. animal agriculture industry agrees with Agriculture Secretary Perdue’s characterization of the verdict as ‘despicable’ and with his opinion that it should be overturned. This miscarriage of justice must be rectified to ensure that the anti-agriculture advocates can’t continue to attack America’s farmers and ranchers,” read the statement.

Plaintiffs in the case had complained of intense odors, noise and other problems. Smithfield has said it plans to appeal the decision.


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