Lawsuit blames pork giant for noxious farm smells

Lawsuit blames pork giant for noxious farm smells
FILE -This July 21, 2017 file photo shows young hogs at Everette Murphrey Farm in Farmville, N.C. A federal lawsuit starting in April 2018, in the country’s No. 2 pork-producing state is the first of a string of cases deciding whether open-air animal waste pits are such a nuisance that neighbors can’t enjoy their own property. The North Carolina trial’s outcome could shake the profits and change production methods of pork producers who have enjoyed legislative protection and promotion in one of the nation’s food centers. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The world’s largest pork corporation is facing the biggest threat in decades to its low-cost, high-volume method of raising animals by discharging liquefied waste over croplands.

A hearing began Tuesday on a federal lawsuit that could force changes on the hog production division of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods. It’s the first of several nuisance lawsuits by more than 500 neighbors of industrial-scale hog operations in North Carolina, the country’s No. 2 pork-producing state.

Neighbors’ attorney Mark Kaeske (KAS-kee) says the contracts North Carolina farmers signed with Smithfield obligate them to use the inexpensive but smelly waste-disposal method. He says new, less-odorous technologies that have been adopted by the company at its location in Missouri.

Smithfield attorney Mark Anderson says the farmers who work for the company never faced complaints until out-of-state lawyers showed up.