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Nobody Should Have Hog Poop on the Walls of Their Home

Rather than let the hog farms next door ruin their lives, North Carolinians are fighting back against Smithfield Foods.

"The fact that North Carolina citizens have to go to court to keep bacteria from hog poop off of their homes (because their elected officials have sided with factory farms) is a perfect example of what is wrong with our food system." (Photo: Southwings)

"The fact that North Carolina citizens have to go to court to keep bacteria from hog poop off of their homes (because their elected officials have sided with factory farms) is a perfect example of what is wrong with our food system." (Photo: Southwings)

Hog Poop on the Walls of your Home Is More Than a “Nuisance”

One year ago we asked what you think of when you hear the word “nuisance.”

“Flies at a picnic, cars driving below the speed limit, wrong number phone calls in the middle of the night? How about fecal matter from hogs on the exterior walls of your home? Odors so foul you are unable to sit on your porch or otherwise enjoy your property? Health impacts suffered by you or your family from breathing air saturated with ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other pollutants?”

The difference between these options seems obvious -- but at the time, the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) had just passed House Bill 467 which stripped North Carolinians living near factory farms of their ability to recover compensation for damages resulting from these types of “nuisances.”

The bill proposed eliminating the ability of the 270,000 people who live within a mile of a factory farm in North Carolina of their right to use the court system to seek compensation for negative health impacts, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life or lost income.

"People living near hog farms in North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit against the world’s largest pork producer."

Simply put, if the toxic and polluting hog farm next door

  • Makes your life unbearable
  • Makes you sick, or
  • Causes you to lose income…

You can only sue for lost property value, but let’s be real-- if your property is next door to a hog farm, it’s likely worth very little. 

In the end, thanks to strong support from the pork industry, House Bill 467 passed the NCGA.

Governor Cooper vetoed it, and the General Assembly, which holds a Republican supermajority in both houses, easily overrode his veto and the bill became law.

Going The Extra Mile...To Protect A Chinese Company Instead of North Carolinians

As originally proposed, HB 467 would have retroactively applied to lawsuits that had already been filed.

This matters because in 2014, 540 plaintiffs living near hog farms in North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit against the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods (now owned by the Chinese company WH Group. The hog farms being sued are operated by Smithfield subsidiary Murphy-Brown).

That means: North Carolina’s General Assembly sought to block existing lawsuits filed by North Carolina citizens who are being hurt by factory farms in order to protect a Chinese company.

They Couldn’t Win This One -- The Lawsuits are ON.

Just before the terrible bill was finally passed, it was amended to exempt the existing suits, made up of 8 groups.

Lawsuit #1, featuring Group #1, began on April 2 and features 10 plaintiffs living near Kinlaw Farms in Bladen County.

They’re suing because they found bacteria from hog feces on 17 of 19 of their houses, and as a result they believe the factory farm has harmed their health and quality of life.

The fact that North Carolina citizens have to go to court to keep bacteria from hog poop off of their homes (because their elected officials have sided with factory farms) is a perfect example of what is wrong with our food system.

Corporations have a one track mind when it comes to our food systems: profit.

So they use their economic and political power to keep it that way (Murphy Brown’s parent company Smithfield Foods has given $3,759,628 to various state and federal candidates and political committees over 19 years).

And when corporate influence shapes public policy, their profits come ahead of people’s interests.

"We can take back our democracy—in North Carolina and across the country."

Corporate influence in our political system is one of the biggest threats to our health, environment, food and water.

But we can take back our democracy—in North Carolina and across the country.

People are increasingly standing together to shift the balance of power and get corporate influence out of our political system, and the plaintiffs in these cases are showing that health and quality of life are worth fighting for. 

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Krissy Kasserman

Krissy Kasserman is the National Factory Farm Campaigner at Food and Water Watch. She works to take our national fight against factory farms to the next level as we battle corporate agriculture and work towards a more sustainable, safer, and equitable food system.

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