Monkey Business Report: Ooooh, that smell ….

Whiskey bottles, and brand new cars
Oak tree you’re in my way
There’s too much coke and too much smoke
Look what’s going on inside you
Ooooh that smell
Can’t you smell that smell
Ooooh that smell
The smell of death surrounds you …. 
— Lynyrd Skynyrd


It’s campaign time.  And we all know that politicians tend to say and do the dumbest / most outrageous / most outlandish things one can imagine at a much higher volume during this period.

Just as they have with the solar goons and Duke Energy, Jones Street Republicans have thrown in with the large corporations stocked with lobbyists armed with fat checks.   And once again, the taxpayers are left standing on the outside looking in.

Rep. Jimmy Dixon, the legislative building’s resident mean-ol’-man, spearheaded a rally in Duplin County against those alleged out-of-state-lawyers allegedly trying to put all North Carolina farmers out of business.  *That’s right.  Scare the hell out of people already working in a precarious, struggling industry so they turn out in droves for you in November.*

Dixon and senator Brent Jackson pushed a bill capping legal damages resulting from lawsuits against pork interests.  Surely, not by coincidence, this was done amidst some on-going litigation against major hog farms in the state.

There are a number of problems with the arguments put forth by Jackson, Dixon, et. al.   First, some of the lawsuits against the hog interests were spearheaded by the Salisbury law firm of Graham & Wallace.  The Graham part of that equation is Bill Graham, a NCGOP mega-donor who flirted with running for governor a few years back.

Second of all, the actual facts of these cases suggest that the legal action is NOT against the “family farms” Jackson and Dixon claim to be protecting:

[…] Opening arguments are due to start this week in a third trial. Like the others, it was filed against Smithfield and subsidiary Murphy-Brown, not individual farmers.

“There was nothing in the court case to take the Carter’s farm away at all; that’s completely a choice of Smithfield Foods under their contracts,” said Ryke Longest, director of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic.

“Joey Carter was not a defendant in the last trial; Smithfield Foods actually filed a motion with the court to dismiss the case and asked the court to join Joey Carter into the case,” Longest said.

Longest said Smithfield is motivated to do this because if a grower were sued, the case would be moved into state court, which would mean a jury from Duplin County would be making the decision instead of a jury pulled from all over eastern North Carolina.

Molly Diggins, state director for the Sierra Club, said Smithfield and those aligned with it would like people to think individual farmers are the ones being harmed.

“Obviously family farmers are a far more sympathetic face to the public than a massive corporation,” Diggins said.

Smithfield describes itself as a “$15 billion global food company” and is owned by WH Group, which is headquartered in Hong Kong and generated $22 billion in revenue last year.

“They’re the ones being sued, period,” Diggins said.


Retiring House member John Blust delivered an eloquent defense of property rights on the House floor during the debate to overturn  Gov. Cooper’s veto of the Dixon-Jackson legislation.  Unfortunately, he got ignored and run over by his colleagues (1) not wanting to be seen as opposing farmers, and (2) wanting to keep the pork industry PAC money flowing.

It’s a little uncomfortable being on the same side of an argument with some of these liberal interests out there.  But the folks at IndyWeek have an interesting piece up about how there are solutions out there for cleaning up hog operations, but they aren’t being used.  Environmental protection measures are being mandated against new farms, but not much of that is being extended to older operations.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like my bacon and pork chops. But hog farms are pure nastiness.  Something serious has to be done to protect air quality and water supplies near those facilities.

 I am not going as far as Blinking’ Chris and his comrades to suggest that this is all part of some big racist conspiracy.  It’s actually a sordid example of “the people’s representatives” pandering to and fawning over the folks with the lobbyists and big bank accounts.  At our expense.  

10 thoughts on “Monkey Business Report: Ooooh, that smell ….

  1. Smithfield is the entity which is hostile to our farmers. I am attempting to obtain some of the unfair contracts of adhesion which Smithfield makes farmers sign. Many of the farmers are in debt to Smithfield, which pays the farmers only $13 or $14 per pig and then claims only break-even results for the farming arm of its huge multi-billion dollar business. The farmer must pay all expenses and try to repay Smithfield out of that $14 per hog. The hogs are actually owned by Smithfield, not the farmers, who are, in reality employees. “Slavery” is a term used way too much, but the farmers are certainly close to being indentured servants. Smithfield makes around $33 per pig profit but that is all assigned to the processing division of the company. Smithfield could easily fund the technology to severely mitigate the odors and all of this problem would be solved as it was in Missouri. If the legislature wants to prove itself to be pro farmer, these contracts of adhesion should be regulated so the huge multi-billion company cannot take advantage of our farmers. Let’s see if that happens during the next legislative session. Smithfield has spent millions on its PR campaign and on its effort to influence politicians. It is time to fix the problem so that everyone will be a winner.

    1. There’s a very enlightening documentary called Food, Inc. (it’s on Netflix) that exposes the corporate bully tactics you’re talking about. More people need to be made aware of how these corporations are manipulating the food supply for profit.

    2. Thanks for speaking up John Blust. On a related note, is there anything that can be done to stop the harassment and intimidation taking place against the plaintiffs in their communities? Perusing social media posts, it appears that it is getting close to becoming out of hand, and victimizing them all over again.

  2. Odors are just the tip of the iceberg here, and its going to get much more costly than just these lawsuits. Pollution clean up, trespassing, unconstitutionality of the law as written, collusion between soil and water districts, soil and water testing discrepancies. There is a whole pipeline of “hogshit” coming down the road for NC. Hopefully this will get righted before eastern NC turns into the next Flint, MI. I mean, there is Erin Brokovich type stuff going on here, and NC will pay dearly.

    1. And sadly, the Special Interest Republicans involved are in the hip pocket of the Chinese who own Smithfield Farms.

      A number of usually good conservatives got snookered on this bill with the false flag of property rights. The property rights of nearby landowners took it on the chin from this corrupt legislation.

  3. I quit all live stock products that come from factory farms years ago. The treatment of the animals is generally inhumane and the quality of the product suffers as well,IMHO,as does those who eat the product.

  4. John Blast thanks for the update! Agree Also, Farmers must be required to use methods which have and are working to prevent horrible odors and any Pollutions. Farmers may need to unit against Smithfield Hog Company for being treated unjust with the selling price of Hogs!
    NC Representatives should support NC Farmers! Not be payed by Donations for their VOTE!

  5. Whoa. Let’s not get lost in the weeds here. Never mind the plaintiffs’ lawyers and their noble work for just a minute. NC is #2 in hog production (I believe) and has some of the toughest air and water rules anywhere. Years ago, Cooper took his first slush fund to dole out 1/2 to his faux environmental groups and 1/2 to NCSU to find answers. Some improvements were made and a lot of rules were passed. There are mechanisms to ratchet up restrictions if complaints are well-founded. My point is – if there is a problem – it is Cooper’s responsibility. His agencies have the authority. This where legitimate groups should start – But this is not about the air or water – it is about politics. Somehow Cooper – who runs the executive branch (one he is even seen in public) and has the responsibility for fixing this if there is a problem – is being held blameless. Instead, these faux groups are seeking to make gains in the Nov election at the GA.

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