Yesterday, South Carolina governor Jim Hodges imposed a 15-day moratorium on building new hog farms in his state. A Smithfield Foods subsidiary called Carroll’s Foods wants to build two new facilities near the town of Latta, and Gov. Hodges wants no part of it. At a meeting of Latta residents and environmental regulators, Hodges blasted Smithfield, saying: “These factory hog farms are not welcome here. We cannot allow our rich and vibrant quality of life to be eroded by reckless out-of-state hog factory farms. I call on the Legislature to take action. Toughen our laws and defend our families.” Both houses in the South Carolina legislature have indicated that they will quickly adopt legislation to extend the governor’s emergency order.
Governor Hodges’ choice of targets is curious, considering that just three weeks ago Carroll’s Foods was publicly recognized for its sterling environmental record. On April 2, this same Smithfield company became the very first livestock operation in the entire United States to receive the prestigious ISO 14001 environmental certification. The ISO 14001 standard “establishes a coordinated framework of controls to manage environmental protection.”
The governor, then, can’t be objecting to Smithfield Foods on environmental grounds. So what’s the problem? Maybe it has something to do with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.’s organization, called the Water Keeper Alliance. Kennedy’s coalition of nanny groups has been suing pork producers left and right for months, in an effort to promote so-called “organically grown” meats and limit consumer choice. Perhaps now they’ve gained a powerful ally in the Palmetto State’s highest office.