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Environmental concerns are raised by the release of manure from Smithfield hog farm -report
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Environmental concerns are raised by the release of manure from Smithfield hog farm -report

Smithfield Foods’ Smithfield Foods hog slaughterhouse in Smithfield (Virginia, U.S.A. October 17, 2019) is decorated with a sculpture. REUTERS/Tom Polansek/File photo

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April 1, 2006 (Reuters) – Since Smithfield Foods, a U.S. pork producer, took over Missouri hog farms in 2006, more than 20 Missouri hog farmers have reported an increase emergency manure releases. An environmental advocacy group cites equipment failures and poor maintenance as reasons for concern about the impact on water quality and air quality.

Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, (SRAP), reviewed 30 year records from Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The records were on 21 hog farms that Smithfield, the nation’s top pork company, now owns. Smithfield purchased them in 2006, via Premium Standard Farms (PSF).

Citing state data, the group discovered that more than 4 million gallons of manure have been released into emergency containment systems or dumped into waterways during the past 15-years – an increase by 70% compared to the 15 previous years under PSF’s control.

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State regulators confirmed SRAP’s data but stated that the vast majority released from Smithfield operations were contained at site and did not reach nearby waterways.

According to the DNR-verified records, the causes of manure release include clogged pipes, equipment failure, and lack of proper maintenance.

Smithfield claimed it had yet to read the report, but was proud of their environmental record. It questioned the group’s analysis and stated that the numbers for the volume released of manure “seems inexactly high.”

According to the company, its violations have fallen due to improvements in its manure management.

Jim Monroe, vice president of corporate affairs, stated that we are proud of our recent environmental compliance record in the State.

According to data, the DNR inspectors visited 49% fewer sites than in the previous period. The state also saw a decrease of 94% in violations. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Missouri is the seventh largest hog state.

Scott Dye (SRAP research and reports specialist) and the author of the report said that the DNR hasn’t done enough to address the releases. He said that we were seeing the same types of spillages, which are caused by the same things.

Brian Quinn is the DNRs information officer. He said that the state routinely inspects emergency containers and investigates all incidents and complaints, but not all of them result in site visits.

He said that violations of secondary containment do not exist because wastewater is not discharged to an area where it is reasonably certain to reach the state’s waters.

Poor air quality and water quality have been a problem in communities near large-scale livestock farms for a long time. In 2019, the American Public Health Association urged a moratorium on the construction of new facilities like these because they pose a threat to public safety.

Missouri’s regulation of animal confinements has been the subject of heated debate between lawmakers, industry, and environmental groups. 2019 saw the state legislature repeal county health ordinances that had imposed stricter regulations.

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Reporting by Leah Douglas. Editing by Howard Goller

Our Standards The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles

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