See our Photo of the Week (and archive of more) ... and the echo follows

Opinion Advertize Permission
To be notified of new articles Survey Store About Us
National Environmental groups pull out of
NPPC-Sponsored "Dialogue"
on Factory Farm Pork Production

Coalition to Propose EPA Limits
On Environmental Impacts of Large-Scale Hog Operations

by Rhonda Perry,
Columbia, Missouri

When the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) gathered at the end of June in Annapolis, Maryland to discuss EPA regulation of the pork industry, they were sitting at an empty table. National environmental groups, including Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and Center for Rural Affairs, pulled out of the talks after the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment denounced the pork industry-sponsored process as "greenwashing."

The National Environmental Dialogue on Pork Production, convened by the NPPC, along with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was supposed to address the environmental impacts of large-scale pork production. The environmental groups invited to the table withdrew from discussions, joining the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment in calling the "dialogue" a flawed process that could not yield useful results.

"Unfortunately, the basic level of trust needed for a dialogue with the NPPC does not now exist, so we are pursuing other approaches," said Robbin Marks, senior resource specialist at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The organizations cited the dominant role of the NPPC as a key reason for their refusal to participate. NPPC has a long record of opposing state and federal initiatives to prevent factory hog operations from polluting air and water in rural communities. Recently, NPPC was forced to return more than $50,000 in producer checkoff funds after it was revealed that the group had engaged in surveillance of family farm and environmental organizations opposed to industrial hog operations.

The Campaign, along with family farm and environmental groups, criticized the dialogue as a way for NPPC to repair its anti-environmental image--an image carried through NPPC's opposition to restrictions on corporate hog factories.

"Given NPPC's terrible environmental record, we regard this dialogue as little more than greenwashing," said Iowa CCI member and family hog farmer Larry Ginter. "This NPPC-sponsored dialogue is a clear attempt by NPPC to win in Washington what they have lost in the countryside."

"Once again, the National Pork Producers Council has lost in its bid to put corporate hog industry needs before those of America's family farmers. We're going to join with environmental groups to recommend EPA standards for hog production that are fair to family farmers and rural communities," said family hog farmer Rhonda Perry of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center.

The Campaign will work with a coalition of family farm, environmental, sustainable agriculture and grassroots groups to develop a unified, positive agenda for tackling the environmental impacts of industrial hog operations -- a process which will welcome an open public dialogue.

"Industrial hog production is a crucial issue to those in rural communities who have been living with its disastrous effects for years. We want everyone who has a stake in controlling these polluters to get a chance to come to the table and be heard," said John Demeree, a family hog farmer and member of Illinois Stewardship Alliance.

The Campaign also will work with environmental groups to push EPA for better enforcement of existing environmental laws that could control the pollution from industrial hog factories.

"Instead of participating in an NPPC-funded greenwashing exercise," said Gary Grant of the North Carolina Hog Roundtable, "environmentalists and family farmers are going to fight together to ensure that factory hog farming operations are held accountable for environmental damage."

The Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment is a national coalition of farm and rural residents opposed to factory farms. Campaign groups include Iowa CCI, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, Land Loss Prevention Project (NC), Oklahoma Toxics Campaign, Indiana Campaign for Family Farmers, Land Stewardship Project (MN), and Animal Welfare Institute.

Published in In Motion Magazine July 13, 1997.