Perdue calls Smithfield decision ‘despicable,’ Farm Bureau agrees
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.”
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The House Agriculture Committee Wednesday held a hearing on the impact of electric vehicles on rural communities and agriculture.