Food company settles over previous settlement terms

By Keith Loria | Sep 2, 2010


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster has announced a settlement with the owner of 11 animal feeding operations in Northwest Missouri to protect the state's water and air.

The settlement with Smithfield Foods and Premium Standard Farms ends an ongoing dispute with the State that began in 1999, when then-Attorney General Jay Nixon filed a lawsuit alleging that the company violated several federal and state environmental laws involving wastewater spills and discharges.

"It is my hope that today's settlement will accomplish the goals set forth by the state of Missouri to protect clean water and air in Northwest Missouri," Koster said.

"The agreement provides a firm schedule under which modern technology will be installed in approximately 365 hog barns operated by the company. In addition, $1 million in voluntary payments by the company will be distributed to local county school funds and road districts."

The original lawsuit, settled in Aug. 1999, required a variety of actions by Premium Standard Foods. A second lawsuit was filed in 2002 by Nixon that alleged additional violations of the Missouri Clean Water law. A second settlement was entered in Feb. 2004 that required additional actions by Premium Standard Foods. That settlement set an Aug. 1, 2010 completion deadline.

Premium Standard Foods fulfilled most of the requirements of the first and second settlements during the requisite period but failed to install next generation barn odor control technology by the Aug. 1 deadline, Koster says.

Under the new agreement, Premium Standard Foods is required to install approved scraper systems in 48 barns by Dec. 31 and at least a total of 136 barns by July 31. That number rises to 230 barns by Dec. 31, 2011, and requires all remaining barns - approximately 365 - have odor control by July 31, 2012.

Failure to meet the judgment's deadlines will, under terms of the agreement, impose fines of $2,000 per day, per barn set, for the first 30 days of noncompliance. The penalty rises to $4,000 per day, per barn set for the next 30 days of noncompliance and to $6,000 per day, per barn set, for 60 days or beyond of noncompliance.

The agreement also includes $1 million in voluntary payments by the company, with $100,000 paid to each of the local county school funds of Gentry, Daviess, Mercer, Sullivan and Putnam by Premium Standard FOods. Additionally, a total of $500,000 will be paid to the county road funds of Daviesss, Gentry, Grundy, Mercer, Putnam and Sullivan.

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