While we were impressed with a recent letter writer’s attempt to turn accusations against Smithfield’s N.C. hog farms into evidence, the facts don’t support her unfounded charges. In citing a study of the health of southeastern North Carolinians who live near hog farms, for example, she failed to mention it was funded by an avowed opponent of the state’s pork industry. More importantly, the study’s authors admit they didn’t establish a causal link between health and living near farms. (Read the Conclusion on the eighth page.) In fact, they didn’t look at the health data for communities directly next to hog farms, only data from Zip codes in the region.
As for criticism of Smithfield playing in N.C. politics, how strange to see a university professor question the people’s right to petition the government and participate in the democratic process.
Hog farmers in North Carolina – and throughout the country – are among the best stewards of the environment. In fact, comparing today’s farms with those of 50 years ago, the pork industry now produces twice as much product using 76% less land, 25% less water and 7% less energy and generating 8% fewer carbon emissions. Through technology and innovation, our hog farmers are keeping the true cost of bacon to the environment and for consumers very low.
And Smithfield is supporting its hog farmers’ environmental efforts. Our sustainability initiatives, which will help us reduce greenhouse gases by 30% and source 50% of our electricity from renewable fuels by 2030, include projects to convert hog manure to energy by capturing carbon dioxide and methane and turning it into renewable natural gas. That biogas can replace fossil fuels, fight climate change, reduce odor, and even prevent flooding. (Some N.C. “environmentalists” oppose it. Go figure.)
Finally, Smithfield is a sponsor of Duke basketball because of its and the university’s proud tradition of excellence. Our farmers have a proud tradition, too: caring for their animals, supporting their workers and giving back to the communities in which they live and work.
Jim Monroe is the Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Smithfield Foods.
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