The National Pork Producers Council issued the following statement today in response to lawsuits filed by the Water Keeper Alliance.

"The legal assault launched today by environmental and animal rights activists with the financial backing of well-heeled plaintiffs' lawyers is an attack on American agriculture and an abuse of our judicial system. This action highlights why Americans have developed a healthy suspicion of self-appointed prosecutors. The last thing producers need is their attention focused on legal defense strategies, instead of providing safe and affordable food for the American people.

"These outrageous and vicious lawsuits seek to condemn Americans for raising hogs, a profession with a long and storied tradition that is practiced today by 85,000 families in all 50 states. Should any of these lawsuits prove successful, a dangerous precedent will be established, threatening the financial existence of any farmer regardless of size who employs generally accepted methods of production. A successful formula is easy to replicate and any farm family's way of life is vulnerable, especially if they are coping with urban sprawl or an influx of new neighbors unfamiliar with the sounds and smells of farming.

"In boasting about the strength of their legal team, Water Keeper Alliance head Robert Kennedy, Jr. said: 'They are the best in the country and we are going to put an end to this industry.' This assault should alarm all of agriculture, given that plaintiffs' lawyers have made it clear the pork industry is only their first target. The lawyers and activists who hatched this attack strategy have boldly predicted they will attack poultry, beef, dairy and row crop farmers in the future.

"Contrary to the baseless allegations made today, America's pork producers have a tremendous environmental record and have been repeatedly commended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for leading agriculture on environmental issues."

"Pork producers operate under strict federal and state pollution laws and are working continuously to ensure that hogs are raised in an environmentally sustainable manner. For example, the Black River and the South River, which traverse North Carolina counties with the highest concentration of hogs in America, are classified as Outstanding Resource Waters.

"In 1997, pork producers, and representatives from EPA, USDA and the states developed a comprehensive set of regulatory recommendations for pork production that included: new permit provisions; manure management requirements; setbacks from water sources and neighboring residences; and operator training and certification.

"In order to improve the environmental performance of thousands of farms nationwide, NPPC in 1998 began the On-Farm Odor/Environmental Assistance Program (OFO/EAP). Under the program, pork producers receive a comprehensive assessment of their farms' environmental practices by trained third party inspectors. The program, developed by professional engineers and consultants from industry and government, has been so successful that it is now being expanded to cover other animal species.

"Recognizing the importance of controlling odor, the pork industry has also committed to a multi-million dollar program to test the effectiveness of innovative odor reduction technologies. Under the Odor Solutions Initiative, mechanical, biological and chemical odor treatment technologies are being tested in laboratories and on farms. Significant investments of producer checkoff funding have also been allocated on specific odor and water quality research projects at 16 universities.

"More than 10,000 pork producers have participated in NPPC's Environmental Assurance Program, a comprehensive classroom continuing environmental education program. And each year, five pork producers from around the nation who have demonstrated superior environmental performance are honored as Environmental Stewards."

National Pork Producers Council

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