Primary Source Report-DP

Title: Jury awards more than $25 million to Duplin County couple in hog-farm case

Location: https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article214096384.html

Description: The source helps strengthen my argument that the animal agriculture industry knowingly neglects the harmful consequences of their practices faced by locals. Also, the fact that the jury came to the decision to award $25 million in repercussion serves as evidence that the locals have a strong case.

The news article covers the decision of a jury in North Carolina against Smithfield Foods and to award 500 local residents a total of $25 million in repercussion. The lawsuits focused on the Smithfield Foods’ “continued use of ‘anaerobic lagoons’ in which hog waste is stored behind livestock pens, then liquefied and sprayed onto nearby fields”. The droplets and odor tend to travel through air and become a nuisance and health hazard to residents and therefore, lawyers claimed that the practice is a public nuisance – to which the jury agreed. However, politics and the animal agriculture industry are married, and the pork industry receives some level of government protection against valid lawsuits.

In the article, Ryke Longest, the director of the Duke Environmental Law and Policy Clinic is quoted: “Neighbors with active cases can still pursue these claims. But the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the North Carolina Farm Act last week to cut off access to our courts for neighbors who suffer nuisance conditions caused by large swine farms.” Despite valid claims of local residents about the nuisance caused by the practices of the hog industry, government officials in the state made it difficult for residents to file a claim for legal justice probably due to fear of economic loss and political support. In addition, the state law caps punitive damages, ensuring that Smithfield Foods loses no more money what a negligible amount to it may be. The intentional negligence of Smithfield Foods’ is amplified by the reporting since there are better ways to dispose hog waste that eliminates or at the very least, minimizes the damage caused to locals. Longest contends “new technologies can eliminate ammonia emissions, odors, pathogens and reduce the risk of spills and discharges to groundwater which always exist with lagoons and spray-fields.” However, Smithfield Foods puts profits above people’s right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness by arguing that changing the technology would be too costly.

Title: On the Road in Duplin County – Meet Your Neighbors in North Carolina

Location: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFzDpUUecw8

Description: The source introduces environmental racism and presents internal perspectives, which I can use to support my argument. It also stresses that those who buy the products are also supporting the practices that are destroying the quality of life and health of people who live near the farms which supports my claim that the responsibility extends beyond corporations and governments.

In August 2017, Leilani Munter visited eastern North Carolina to observe the living conditions in Duplin County and interview locals. The video starts off with several locals contrasting their early life in Duplin County, which was primarily joyous and peaceful, with the current situation of the quality of their lives. Leilani rides and flies around Duplin County to capture footage and to bring transparency to the practices of the hog industry. The interviews also shed light to the detrimental health effects of constantly being exposed to hog waste.

Rick Dove, who is part of Waterkeeper Alliance, begins his interview by sharing how there were many and healthy fishes in the waters near Duplin County, NC as compared to recently, when he observed that many fishes were washed up to the shore with opening, bleeding lesions and the crabs started having holes in their shells. Elsie Herring, a Duplin County resident shares that the facilities bring helplessness and hopelessness and are polluting the air and water and consequently, disrupting the quality of life, health, and mental status of locals. Rene Miller and Violet Branch are two residents of the county whose asthma has evolved while living near hog farms. Naeema Muhammad, a member of the Environmental Justice Network, refers to Dr. Steven Wing’s research, which indicates that hog farms are mainly concentrated in eastern North Carolina. In other words, they are mainly concentrated where African Americans live and therefore, is an example of environmental racism. Larry Baldwin, the Crystal Coast Waterkeeper, and Rick Dove say that those who purchase products that come from these farms are contributing to the injustices.

Title: After 15 Years, North Carolina Plant Unionizes

Location: https://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/13/us/13smithfield.html

Description: This article helps strengthen my arguments about the hog industry’s value for profit over the quality of human life. It provides internal perspectives of hog factory works and external perspectives that hindered and propelled unionization.

The article covers the successful unionization of workers at the world’s largest hog-killing plant, the Smithfield Packing slaughterhouse in Tar Heel, N.C. The unionization is pivotal in ensuring fare treatment of workers and adequate compensation who are primarily African American and Hispanic. After many years of fighting for unionization, United Food and Commercial was able to unionize due to the court’s supervision over the election.

The United Food and Commercial was not able to unionize earlier because the hog industry instilled fear in minority union supports. As evidence, take the court order to Smithfield to reinstate four union supporters that were illegally fired, one of whom was beaten by the plant’s police on the day of the 1997 election for unionization. Moreover, Hispanic workers were not on board with unionization due to fear that stemmed from their unfair treatment and their differences. Ms. Victoria, a worker who helps cut off hog tails at the plant in Tar Heel, N.C. said, “A lot of Hispanic people were scared to support union, sometimes because of the language, and sometimes because they feel they don’t get the same treatment like the people who speak English.

Keywords: Race, Class, African America, Water, Factories