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09/26/2012

Pork lawsuit extravaganza! HSUS and a pig farmer sue pork lobbyists and the government!  »


Not pictured: interested parties in layer-hen living conditions legislation

Big Pork is having a hell of a week.

On Monday, the Humane Society, along with pig farmer (“pork producer”) Harvey Dillenburg, filed a lawsuit against the NPCC because “the National Pork Board ‘struck an unlawful backroom deal’ with the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) in purchasing the marketing message “Pork: The Other White Meat” from NPPC” in 2001.

Essentially, a case of massive, deliberate money mismanagement and lack of government oversight. All pig farmers have to give some of their profits to the NPPC, which has been, this lawsuit alleges, illegally taking money from the NPB and double-charging its funders/creators of the product it’s selling. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is named as a co-defendant because the government is supposed to monitor how the NPB spends its money.

Why is HSUS involved? According to a press release, because of

… glaring legal violations, conflicts of interest, and an exorbitantly over-inflated $60 million price tag associated with the deal. Much of the extraordinarily inflated value of the slogan resulted from 20 years of promotional campaigns funded entirely with pork producers’ own checkoff funds: roughly half a billion dollars. In essence, NPPC charged pork producers twice: once to make The Other White Meat successful, and again to pay for the value of that success.

Park Wilde of U.S. Food Policy blog explains further: HSUS is trying to protect its recent agreement with egg producers over “ethically acceptable” cage sizes for layer hens.

Although the leading trade association for egg producers is now working with HSUS to get this balanced policy approved by Congress, the agreement faces implacable opposition from the NPPC. The egg agreement causes no harm to pork producers, but the NPPC is worried that the precedent of a successful egg agreement will generate unrealistic hopes for similar good-faith negotiations about gestation crates for pork.  It is not surprising that HSUS has been looking into how the federal government’s pork board—which is not supposed to support lobbying—helps fund the NPPC’s efforts to spoil the egg agreement.

See why you, animal-rights enthusiast, should care about this? The NPPC is a bunch of money-grubbing, anti-agriculture-reform jerks who are trying to scuttle HSUS’s effort to make life less shitty for farm animals, outside of their own species jurisdiction. The NPPC is fighting egg production reforms because it sees similar reforms in its future, and it fears them. HSUS alleges that NPPC can’t legally use its funds to fight this battle, pig farmers agree that this is a terrible use of their money, and so we have this lawsuit.

Wilde calls the suit “well written, with astonishing details,” so maybe you want to take a look [pdf]. We’re not surprised that lobbying entities are misusing funds, but it’s especially gross when they misuse funds to fight animal welfare reform.

Adorably, NPPC CEO Neil Dierks responded to the lawsuit by calling HSUS a bully. It’s cute when the people in power feel threatened and immediately appropriate the language of the oppressed. Meat industry supporters are such crybabies.

[Photo by Valerie via Flickr]

(Source: usfoodpolicy.blogspot.com)

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