Closing Arguments Heard In Smithfield Nuisance Trial

Residents and hog farmers clash on how to manage manure from hog farms. ( Sara Brown )

The federal trial in North Carolina might have the potential to alter the future of hog farming in the state. Closing arguments in the Smithfield nuisance case (McKiver et al v. Murphy-Brown, LLC) were heard Tuesday.

For three weeks, a Raleigh, N.C., jury heard arguments why residents are angry about waste management practices and the environment and health affects they have experienced by living near Kinlaw Farms, a 15,000-pig facility that raises hogs on contract for Smithfield.

A jury decision in favor of the 10 plaintiffs could have a lingering effect on the 25 other federal lawsuits filed by more than 500 plaintiffs living near hog farms in eastern North Carolina. It would also put additional pressure on farmer-suppliers.

Regardless of the decision, pig farmers will continue to find ways to innovate and improve production and waste-management technologies as they become feasible, industry leaders say.

“The industry has seen claims like this in the past and I am sure there will be other claims in the future. I believe when all the facts are weighed, the industry will be fine,” said Neil Dierks, CEO of the National Pork Producers Council.