Perdue calls Smithfield decision ‘despicable,’ Farm Bureau agrees

-The Hagstrom Report

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.

Meeting with reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at USDA, Perdue said he had was not familiar with the court ruling, but still described it as “despicable.”

Noting that he had once served on a planning and zoning committee, Perdue added, “It’s horrible if that’s the kind of money that people are awarding. I feel certain that kind of award has to be overturned.”

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said,“The recent jury verdict in a nuisance lawsuit involving a Murphy-Brown contract hog farm is deeply troubling.”

“Before a jury can award millions of dollars in damages for so-called nuisance odors from a farm, that jury should at least be allowed to visit the farm and hear evidence about actual odor measurements at the farm,” Duvall said.

“It is worrisome that a misled jury has set a dangerous precedent that will motivate more greed-driven lawsuits against more farmers. We are hopeful this verdict will be overturned on appeal.”

In another matter, when a reporter asked if Perdue was worried that he does not have as much security some other Cabinet officers, Perdue replied, “I feel safe. I’m just less important.”