Opinion Washington Post: Smithfield should bail out pools of hog waste, not ask for a bailout
Regarding the Oct. 24 news article “Will farm bailout help foreign firms?”:
Allowing hog producer Smithfield Foods, which is wholly owned by China’s WH Group, to apply for relief from a U.S. taxpayer-funded bailout program designed to shield U.S. farmers from retaliatory tariffs from China is absurd. We should require this corporation to use its own money to stop polluting, not subsidize it while it continues to harm North Carolina’s people and natural resources. Federal and state leaders should demand that Smithfield, the No. 1 pork producer in the United States, with sales of $14.4 billion in 2015, pay to clean up the environmental catastrophe caused when torrential rains from Hurricane Florence flooded cesspools of toxic pig waste at its industrial hog farms and spread that waste across our state.
Smithfield should remove its operations from the flood plain so this doesn’t happen after the next hurricane. And it should install better waste management technology to prevent the harm it causes under sunny skies.
Will Hendrick, Chapel Hill, N.C.
The writer is a staff attorney for Waterkeeper Alliance.
A Chinese-owned pork producer is eligible for federal payments under President Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout, a program that was established to help U.S. farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war with China.
Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based pork producer acquired in 2013 by a Chinese conglomerate now named WH Group, can apply for federal money under the bailout program created this summer, said Agriculture Department spokesman Carl E. Purvis.
JBS, a subsidiary of a Brazilian company by the same name, is also eligible to apply for the federal money. The two companies are the biggest pork producers in the United States, according to the National Pork Board, a quasi-government agency.
The USDA said in August that, as part of a broader bailout, it would buy $1.2 billion of surplus food from farmers for distribution to food banks across the country, including about $560 million in pork purchases. The administration has billed the plan as an effort to shield farmers from retaliatory tariffs from China.