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Robert Kennedy Jr.: ‘Factory Farm’ Crusader Lives High On the Hog

What is Kennedy Jr. thinking suing zero-discharge hog farms for ... discharge? Perhaps his trial lawyers can answer.

by
Dennis T. Avery

Bio

March 29, 2010 - 12:00 am
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North Carolina’s Black River watershed has the highest concentration of hogs in America. The state says it’s still “an outstanding resource water.” The river has no higher nitrate content today, with 9 million hogs, than it did 15 years ago with 2 million. In fact, most of the nitrate put into North Carolina rivers comes not from the hog farms but from urban sewage treatment plants. Sewage treatment typically takes out only half of the nitrate from human wastes.

By shifting tactics and location, however, Bobby’s trial lawyer team won at least one lawsuit against a big hog farm — Premium Standard Farms in Missouri. But that suit was about odor. One such lawsuit claimed the hog farm odors had caused every case of flu, fatigue, and depression in the county. Unmindful of the irony, they then passed around a cloth dipped in hog waste.

A Smithfield representative told the Associated Press:

In Missouri, there is no limit to the amount a plaintiff can recover for an alleged nuisance, no matter how slight. The potential … [makes] Missouri extremely attractive to out-of-state plaintiffs’ lawyers looking for big paydays.

In fact, the confinement farms are better for both the animals and the environment. The animals are protected from heat and cold, so they gain more weight on less feed. Moreover, it would take all the cropland in Pennsylvania to give 60 million hogs their outdoor “playgrounds.” Remember, we’ll need twice as much food in 2050, and there is no sign that people will give up bacon for breakfast or pork roast for Sunday dinner.

Bobby Kennedy Jr. certainly doesn’t care about a few dozen neighbors of a few dozen confinement hog farms, but says his trial lawyers can make $10 billion suing the confinement livestock farms.

Something seems to have gone very wrong with our environmental movement.

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Dennis T. Avery served on the staff of the U.S. Commodity Future Trading Commission from its inception in 1974 until 1980. He is currently a senior fellow of the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years.
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