By Rev. David L. Ostendorf
One has to wonder what the leaders of the Environmental Protection Agency were thinking when they invited the world’s agribusiness giants to sit at and run the agency’s gargantuan-named Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Federal Advisory Committee (FRRCC). Chaired by a representative of Del Monte Foods the “independent advisory committee” also includes the global giant, Syngenta ([GMO] seeds), the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, and the multinational meat conglomerates, JBS (beef) and Smithfield (hogs). Perhaps the EPA didn’t get last November’s announcement about the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture joint hearings on competition (or lack thereof) and regulatory issues in agriculture—hearings at which the agbiz giants are rightly and routinely taken to task by the farm and rural people and communities who pay the true cost of their control of agriculture.
The real irony of this little-known committee is the re-appointment of Smithfield’s “Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer,” charged with running the company “in a socially responsible and sustainable way.” Apparently the EPA’s “Office of the Agricultural Counselor to the Administrator” didn’t bother to look around his own agency to learn of Smithfield’s environmental record in the countryside, including its ongoing efforts to thwart the decade-old consent decree its PSF subsidiary entered to clean up its hog operations in Missouri. As well, the agency apparently chose to ignore the $11 million jury verdict the company incurred in March for the stench from its PSF operations—the largest monetary award ever in a hog “farm” odor nuisance case. Perhaps Smithfield’s VP will help the EPA Federal Advisory Committee develop strategies for skirting corporate environmental responsibility in the countryside.
Read full post at Imagine 2050