Animal rights group to sue pork farmers over … paperwork problems?

From The Daily Caller, by , 07/11/2012 – The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) picked a fight with pig  farmers Wednesday, announcing its intent to sue 51 pork producers over what it  said was a failure to report discharges of ammonia into the environment.

But the National Pork Producers Council, a farmers’ trade group, told The Daily Caller that the animal rights group was taking “alleg[ed] … paperwork  violations” and weaving them into a made-up environmental disaster.

And a food PR expert told The DC that the move was calculated to drive up costs for farmers who produce bacon, ham and other animal proteins.

HSUS said its targets in Iowa, North Carolina and Oklahoma failed to comply with the Environmental Protection Agency’s reporting  requirements for discharges of ammonia exceeding 100 pounds in a 24-hour  period.

“All of the operations put on notice today exceed this requirement, and in  some cases by vast amounts,” HSUS said in a press release. The group also  said many of the farms it plans to sue are members of the pork trade  group.

“It is important to point out that HSUS is not alleging environmental harm  but rather paperwork violations of EPA’s emissions reporting rule,” the National  Pork Producers Council said in a statement.

The episode has convinced some observers that the Humane Society of the  United States’ environmental watch-dogging has a hidden purpose.

“The Humane Society of the United States has a practice of attacking American  agriculture,” said Rick Berman, president of Berman and Company, a public  relations firm that focuses of issues surrounding food politics.

The group’s animal activists, Berman told TheDC, are “seeking to increase the  cost of food production involving animals.”

On its website, the Humane Society of the United States advocates for  vegetarianism. Wayne Pacelle, its CEO, is a dietary vegan, and eats no  animal products at all.

NPPC said its members’ emissions rates are still being evaluated by the EPA,  making it difficult to accurately report. Its statement also noted confusion  surrounding the initial 2009 law that required large-scale hog farms to report  emissions rates.

“There was widespread confusion about it, with some states refusing to accept  reports, one state claiming EPA notices to report emissions were an  Internet hoax and EPA’s Region 4 office initially telling producers and states  there was no reporting requirement,” the group said.

According to HSUS, the targets of its threatened lawsuits produce between 100  and 10,000 pounds of ammonia daily — a products of the “chemical breakdown of  animal manure and urine.”

While the animal rights group’s legal claims focus on some farms’ lapsed  reporting, its statement Wednesday blamed the farms for introducing new  environmental hazards by housing pregnant pigs in crates that limit their  mobility.

The pork trade group said it was reviewing the allegations of  noncompliance.

The Maschhoffs, a Carlyle, Illinois network of pork producers, said it “prides itself on full compliance with all regulations including proper  reporting of required environmental information.” The group said it was also  reviewing the animal activists’ accusations.

[Photos added]

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