The EPA just announced new members of its Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Committee (FRRCC). Dennis Treacy, the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer at Smithfield Foods is among the appointees. The FRRCC is an independent committee that advises the EPA on issues such as non-source point water pollution, agricultural air quality, and environmental markets. Smithfield Foods is the world’s largest pork producer and processor, factory farm granddaddy, and environmental, antitrust, and labor law violator. Add to that dodgy international practices and an arguably central role in causing the “swine flu” epidemic in 2009, and we have to wonder what on earth a Smithfield exec is doing advising the EPA on ANYTHING!
Surely, it is Smithfield’s “Core Values” that qualify Mr. Treacy to sit on the FRRCC. The company now lists “To protect the environment” and “To have a positive impact on our communities” as 2 of their 5 core values. The other values of the moment are “To produce safe, high-quality, nutritious food”, “To be an employer of choice” and “To advance animal welfare”. These would be better named, “Things we continually violate, destroy or are sued for”.
Smithfield was fined by the EPA for violation of the Clean Water Act –the $12.6 million fine was the third largest civil penalty ever issued by the EPA.
The US Department of Justice assessed Smithfield $900,000 in 2009 because of illegal merger activity with Premium Standard Farms LLC in 2006.
The National Labor Relations Board won a lawsuit against Smithfield in 2006 for an unfair union organizing election.
Smithfield has continually come under fire for the use of gestation stalls and farrowing crates in pig production, the former they vowed to phase out in 10 years, but then recanted.
And while Smithfield denies it to the teeth, local sources claim that production practices at a Smithfield subsidiary in Perote, Mexico helped cause the “swine flu”, or “NAFTA flu” epidemic of 2009.
So, Smithfield, give me a break with these “Core Values”. These are the “Core Areas” where you are failing miserably, but instead of changing course (why would you when you continue to reign supreme in the agbiz world?), you name them and call them your values. This may work for impressing your investors and dazzling your public with shiny propaganda brochures, and it may help you get execs on “independent” legislative committees, but it’s embarrassing.
In addition to Mr. Treacy, agribusiness is further represented on the FRRCC by Tom McDonald, the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at JBS Five Rivers Cattle Feeding; Steven Balling (Committee Chair), a Director at Del Monte Foods; and Janis McFarland from Syngenta. Here is a full list of the new committee.