PSF on barn odor: “We’re working on it”

A large hog operation in northern Missouri says it’s working to satisfy the odor abatement requirements it has agreed to with the state of Missouri. Premium Standard Farms of Princeton, a wholly owned subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, signed a consent decree over 10 years ago with the state to implement “next generation technology” to reduce or eliminate odors and pollutants. The decree comes due July 31st. PSF president Bill Homan says they’re working with the state attorney general and have submitted plans to an expert panel on promising manure “scraper” technology. Homan says there are misconceptions about PSF and blames activists for going after not just CAFOs but smaller farms, “There’s an assault on animal agriculture in the state of Missouri. We have trial lawyers from outside of our state who are focused in on our state because we have some favorable law to plaintiff lawyers seeking large damage claims.”

PSF is appealing a recent judgment in Kansas City awarding 15 neighbors 11 million dollars for an odor nuisance lawsuit. Homan says Missouri law might force PSF to pack up and go elsewhere, “If it’s cheaper to raise pigs in Iowa or Kansas or western Illinois, pigs can be raised and still shipped to the Farmland plant in Milan (Missouri). Perhaps Missouri isn’t a state that’s favorable for animal agriculture.”

PSF employs a combined 25-hundred people at its CAFO in Princeton and at its processing facility in nearby Milan.

At recent public rallies, Homan says over a thousand people, not all employees, showed up in support of PSF, “I think the silent majority is waking up, maybe, and really coming to support Premium Standard Farms.”

A citizen’s committee says Premium Standard Farms in northern Missouri has had more than enough time to come up with a solution to odor problems. Terry Spence is with CLEAN, the Citizens Legal Environmental Action Network, who tells Brownfield even though PSF has presented a scraper system for barn odor abatement, PSF really should have installed biofilters,“We’re thrilled, you know, that the company may be moving to a stage where they will implement a technology but they’ve had 11 years to address this.”

PSF officials are seeking an extension from the state of Missouri to fulfill their agreement to reduce odors. PSF says they DO have biofilters in place but they do not meet the stringent standards of the state agreement for “next generation technology.”

Spence says he doesn’t know what PSF is waiting for, “It seems apparent to me that, you know, it’s easier to spend money not to do something than to set a precedent that ALL of the industry might have to apply for. Now, whether that’s weighing into the equation, I don’t know.”

PSF has asked for another extension from the state to meet the requirements of the deal. Spence says,“I’m not opposed to finding a solution to this but it really concerns and worries me that once they get the extension to go ahead with the scraper system what we’ll be facing down the road. Are we going to face this again in two or three years in the event they decide they don’t want to do it?” Spence says it’s also sad that PSF is scaring its employees by suggesting they may have to shut down and move to another state.

PSF says it’s waiting to hear back from the state expert panel on the scraper technology they presented earlier this month and whether it is good enough at reducing barn odors. Meanwhile, PSF is appealing an $11 million judgment in an odor lawsuit and faces a number of similar pending lawsuits. PSF is a wholly owned subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

Brownfield Julie Harker, Ed Rhoades, Bill Homan, Brian Paulsen AUDIO: Bill Homan (president), Brian Paulsen (manager of environmental affairs), Ed Rhoades (neighbor to a PSF operation) (27 min. MP3)

AUDIO: Terry Spence, co-director of CLEAN (10 min. MP3)

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