Kennedy’s Water Keeper Alliance Bashes Pork Producers

Kennedy’s Water Keeper Alliance Bashes Pork Producers


By: Patti Strand  Date: 01/9/2012 Category: | Animal Legislation | Farm and Ranch Almanac |

The Water Keeper Alliance, a litigious environmental group headed by Robert Kennedy Jr., has taken aim at Iowa pork producers in its campaign to eliminate large hog farms.

In a series of speeches in the Midwest, Kennedy said that the Iowa Department of Natural Resources does not enforce the state’s environmental laws, that Iowa politics is dominated by the livestock industry, and that the pork industry is a greater threat to the US than terrorist Osama bin Laden.

Water Keeper has filed suits seeking damages for alleged environmental damage from large-scale hog farms in North Carolina, Missouri, Florida and Nebraska. The suit in North Carolina was dismissed without a trial for lack of merit in March 2001. After the dismissal, Kennedy told the Associated Press that Water Keeper will eventually win because “We have lawyers with the deepest pockets and they’ve agreed to fight the industry to the end. We’re going after all of them.”

Industry giants such as Smithfield, Premium Standard, Bell Farms, Seaboard Farms, Cargill, Land O’Lakes, and Hormel are the targets in these actions. Anti-consumer giants Sierra Club, Animal Welfare Institute, and the National Farmers Union join Water Keeper as plaintiffs. Kennedy said that any monetary awards gained by the lawsuits would go either to the US Treasury or to mend the alleged environmental damage.

Hog farmers are already subject to federal and state environmental laws that govern disposal of waste, and lawmakers are dealing with complaints about odor and pollution by passing new regulations. Pork producers are not cavalier about the potential for problems; university agriculture departments are researching new systems and refining old ones to keep up with changes in regulations and community standards and to increase efficiency and reduce costs for farmers. Iowa, the latest state to incur the wrath of Water Keeper, recently passed new regulations governing the building of new hog confinement facilities.

Waste control systems include settling basins, constructed wetlands, vegetative filter strips and soil infiltration areas, and injecting waste into the soil as crop fertilizer. The Farm Bill passed by Congress includes subsidies for manure management for qualified livestock producers.

According to the website Consumer Freedom.com, Water Keeper and its allies file suits against large pork producers for the money. In a profile about Water Keeper, Consumer Freedom asserts:

“The master plan? Make reckless claims that hog producers are polluting our rivers – even though they’re already subject to some of the strictest environmental regulations in the United States, and it’s typically large-scale hog farms that receive environmental awards. Make vicious threats about dragging the pork industry into court and shutting it down – forgetting all of the American jobs at stake. And when the cameras are rolling, make absolutely sure that Kennedy is front and center to generate sympathetic media coverage.”

Kennedy apparently agrees with that assessment. On February 18, 2001, he told Weekend Edition, a news program of National Public Radio, “We have attorneys now who have money and they know what they’re doing. They are the best in the country and we are going to put an end to this industry.”




About The Author

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Patti Strand - NAIA National Director

Patti is a recognized expert and consultant on contemporary animal issues, most notably responsible dog ownership and the animal rights movement. She often appears on radio and television and her articles on canine issues, animal welfare, public policy and animal rights have appeared in major US news publications and in trade, professional and scientific journals. Patti and her…


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