Smithfield Packing is attempting to increase its annual hog slaughter at the company's Tar Heel, N.C., plant by 12 percent. But not everyone is supporting that move, in reality, the opposition is mounting. The plan will face scrutiny from a state environmental panel, environmentalists and slaughterhouse workers themselves. A hearing is set for Thursday of this week.
Representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers union says workers will testify at the hearing about the dangers and injuries they now face on the plant's production lines. Officials cite that this is partly due to the recent government-driven immigration raids. The end result is a manpower shortage for the plant, which workers contend is already creating a risky workplace. UFCW argues that adding 1 million more hogs to the annual slaughter, pushing it to 9.5 million head, will only make matters worse.
Meanwhile, environmentalists contend that increasing annual hog-slaughter levels increase waste discharge, which will burden groundwater and rivers, among other concerns. Of course, Smithfield would have to meet environmental requirements before any expansion could begin.