Public Response to Smithfield
This article details both the economic and environmentalist reactions
to Smithfield Foods opening its 850-acre slaughterhouse plant in
Tar Heel, NC. Employees of the industry argue that Smithfield's
presence is a blessing in what would otherwise be an economic wasteland
where unemployment exceeds 10% in certain parts of rural North Carolina.
Environmentalists are concerned that the plant is contaminating
groundwater, creating unbearable odors, and polluting streams, rivers,
and estuaries. Click here
for entire story.
Dirty Money and NC Politics
Since 1991, pro-hog industry lobbyists have used their checkbooks
to maintain contol over North Carolina state legislation with regard
to environmental policy. Industry moguls have contributed hundreds
of thousands of dollars to the campaign funds of state politicians
in return for lose policy under which the major industry players
operate. Public outcry was finally heard in 1997, with the passage
of the Clean Water Responsiblity Act. Click here
for entire article.
Hurricane Floyd Impact
In 1999, Hurricane Floyd struck the North Carolina coast dumping
10-15 inches of rain in a short period of time. This proved disastrous
in terms of both human lives as well as livestock lost in the torrential
downpour. The greater issue however was the hurricane's impact on
the open air waste disposal lagoons scattered across the eastern
and southeastern areas of the state. The suddne flooding resulting
in countless tons of hog waste flowing freely across the land, contaminating
everything in its path. Click here
for entire article.
History of Smithfield
The hog farming industry's leading company is Smithfield Foods,
a Fortune 500 company with annual worldwide sales of almost $8 billion
in 2003. Smithfield ranks as the industry's leading hog producer,
raising over 13 million hog annually, mainly in the Southeastern
region of North Carolina. This tremendous population of hogs enabled
Smithfield to produce about 2.6 billion pounds of fresh pork in
2003, also an industry standard. In 2001, Smithfield expanded into
the beef industry and is already the nation's 5th leading beef producer.
Founded in 1936 in Smithfield, VA, Smithfield Foods overcame financial
difficulties in the 1970s under the leadership of Joseph W. Luter
III, who began an expansion of the company during the early 1980s
that still continues today. Smithfield Foods has made 25 acquisitions
since 1981, transforming the company into a global leader in the
pork and beef industries.
Table and information courtesy of Smithfield
Beginning in the early 1990s, Smithfield and the rest of the major
hog farming companies moved toward vertical integration. Vertical
integration involves a company gaining the ability to control as
many stages of production of a certain industry as possible. Smithfield
took a major step in vertical integration in 1990 when it flew 2,000
specially bred sows to the United States from Britain's National
Pig Development Company that were to comprise the Smithfield Lean
Generation Pork line, which was certified by the American Heart
Association for its low fat, sodium, and cholesterol content.
Additionally, through its own hog production and contracts with
other hog farmers in North Carolina, Smithfield is able to control
all aspects of hog production from "squeal to meal", according
to the president of The Smithfield Packing Company, Lewis Little.
Smithfield's diversity is best demonstrated by showing some of
its best known brands.
Graphics courtesy of Smithfield Foods