Governor Cooper’s veto of House Bill 467, a bill that would limit liability in agricultural nuisance cases, is halfway to being overridden. The N.C. House voted 74–40 in favor of the override; the vote was mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting for it.
The timing is interesting, given that less than a week ago, lawyers representing hundreds of plaintiffs involved in twenty-six federal lawsuits against Murphy-Brown LLC, the hog division of Smithfield Foods, submitted evidence they say proves fecal matter from hog farms is ending up on and likely inside the homes of people who live near them. As the INDY reported, a study by former EPA environmental engineer Shane Rogers found hog feces DNA on fourteen of the seventeen houses tested; in addition, all six of the air samples collected tested positive as well.
“Considering the facts,” Rogers wrote, “it is far more likely than not that hog feces also gets inside the clients’ homes where they live and where they eat.”
The fate of HB 467 now rests in the hands of the Senate. Expect a powerful lobbying effort by the pork industry—especially given how the N.C. Pork Council, a significant campaign contributor to state Republicans, reacted to the veto in the first place.
“[HB 467] strikes a balance in providing clarity and certainty to farmers while ensuring that property owners remain protected. Our laws offer special protections for a wide range of—and farmers are among them. North Carolina’s pork producers follow stringent environmental regulations.
It’s likely the industry will sell the override as a victory for the all-American farmer, leaving out the part where the all-American farmer is a $14 billion Chinese-owned multinational corporation and the people getting their houses sprayed with pig feces are almost universally poor African Americans.