Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Monday that a court decision awarding neighbors of a North Carolina hog farm $50 million is “despicable.”
The contract hog farm is tied to Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield, which is Chinese-owned and the largest hog producer in the world.
Meeting with reporters after a swearing-in ceremony at USDA, Perdue said he had was not familiar with the court ruling, but still described it as “despicable.”
Noting that he had once served on a planning and zoning committee, Perdue added, “It’s horrible if that’s the kind of money that people are awarding. I feel certain that kind of award has to be overturned.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall said, “The recent jury verdict in a nuisance lawsuit involving a Murphy-Brown contract hog farm is deeply troubling.”
“Before a jury can award millions of dollars in damages for so-called nuisance odors from a farm, that jury should at least be allowed to visit the farm and hear evidence about actual odor measurements at the farm,” Duvall said.
“It is worrisome that a misled jury has set a dangerous precedent that will motivate more greed-driven lawsuits against more farmers. We are hopeful this verdict will be overturned on appeal.”
In another matter, when a reporter asked if Perdue was worried that he does not have as much security some other Cabinet officers, Perdue replied, “I feel safe. I’m just less important.”
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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