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E-M:/ Response to the USDA bailout of Pork Producers

Enviro-Mich message from anne.woiwode@sfsierra.sierraclub.org

ENVIRO-MICH -- This is a general press release, but since there is growing
concerns about livestock factories in Michigan it timely -- Anne Woiwode

As released by DC Office of SC.

Please use this with local media as deemed necessary.


 November 25, 1998
                   Holly Minch, 202/675-7903

                   Ken Midkiff, 573-815-9250


 Washington, DC -- Today the Sierra Club denounced the United States
 Department of Agriculture's (USDA) announcement that the agency intends to
 buy $50 million worth of pork, as a classic case of corporate welfare.

 "Corporate hogs are feeding at the public trough," declared Ken Midkiff,
 Director of the Missouri Sierra Club. "It is shameful that the USDA and other
 government agencies give giant agribusiness corporations millions and
 millions of taxpayer dollars that result in a market glut of hogs, and then
 invest many millions more to bail them out."

 In recent years, large corporations have established massive hog operations
 throughout the country -- with equally massive subsidies and financial
 assistance by all levels of government.   These huge facilities have, in
 turn, glutted the market with hogs -- resulting in historically-low market
 prices.  In the process, the air, land and water around the facilities have
 been seriously fouled by harmful pollutants. This industry bailout comes at
 the request of the National Pork Producer's Council, one of the primary
 advocates for corporate hog interests in America.

 "USDA should be directing aid to family farmers and independent producers, as
 they are the ones who have really been harmed, and in some cases, literally
 run out of business." continued Midkiff.  "But this is pork barrel spending
 at its worst."

 In key states such as North Carolina, Iowa and Missouri, family farmers have
 been forced out of the hog business because they are unable to sustain the
 below-cost prices.  The corporate swine operations -- with giant companies
 Seaboard, Murphy's, and Continental Grain leading the way - have received
 hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer-provided subsidies in gaining
 this market control.

 "This display of corporate welfare stinks," said Midkiff. "It stinks almost
 as bad as the giant hog factories themselves."

 The Sierra Club and other environmental organizations have aligned with
 family farm groups and rural communities throughout the country to rein in
 this takeover. Environmentalists  and rural residents are alarmed by
 pollution entering local streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries -- and by the
 overwhelming stench emanating from operations with 2500 to 250,000 hogs.

 A recent TIME magazine series documented the government largesse flowing into
 the corporate hog operations. ("The Empire of Pigs" Time, November 30, 1998.)
 The authors used as an example Seaboard, Inc., an agribusiness with annual
 revenues of $1.8 billion with operations in places ranging from Ecuador,
 Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, to Haiti.  Seaboard has received more than $100
 million in subsidies, incentives, government-backed bonds, and grants from
 municipalities, counties, states, and the US Department of Agriculture.


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