Billionaire Joe Luter III took over his father’s company, Smithfield Foods, in 1975 and proceeded to turn it into the largest factory hog producer in the Nation. To measure the man, one only needs to hear Luter’s favorite story: There was “an old man who was walking with his grandson around a cemetery. They see a tombstone that reads: ‘Here lies Charles W. Johnson, a man who had no enemies.’ The little boy says: ‘Gee, granddad, this man must have been a great man if he had no enemies.’ ‘Son, the grandfather replies, ‘If a man didn’t have any enemies, he didn’t do a damn thing with his life.” With this guiding principal in his life, Luter clearly has little care for wrecking the lives of the neighbors of his hog factories in his insatiable quest for domination.1
Billionaire Wendell Murphy is the man generally given credit for applying chicken factory practices to the hog industry. Murphy while a North Carolina legislator and Senator, “sponsored or helped pass bills which exempted hog facilities from local zoning laws, from environmental litigation from neighbors, and gave the industry generous subsidies and tax-exemptions.” It is reported that Murphy donated $100,000.00 in 1988 to the campaign of Harold Hardison for Lieutenant Governor, well in excess of the $4,000.00 cap on campaign donations in place at the time, although not surprisingly, neither Murphy nor Hardison were prosecuted for the donation. While in the North Carolina Senate, Hardison sponsored the “Hardison Amendments” which put an end to a number of environmental regulations that affected the hog industry. Murphy sold his factory hog empire to Smithfield in 2000 and is now on the Board of Directors of Smithfield.2
Multi-Billionaire Paul Fribourg is the sixth generation of one of the wealthiest families in the World. An affiliate of Fribourg’s privately held company, Continental Grain Company, pled guilty and paid a criminal fine of $10 million and Continental Grain paid $25 million in civil penalties to the United States government on behalf of itself and its affiliate to resolve related civil claims. The USDA alleged that Continental and its affiliate conspired to defraud the USDA in connection with sales of agricultural products to Iraq before the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990.3 Shortly before the settlement of the fraud matter, Continental Grain went into factory hog production in the early 90’s and proceeded to assemble the second largest factory hog producer in the Nation under the name Premium Standard Farms. Premium Standard Farms merged with Smithfield in 2008 and Fribourg became the largest individual stockholder of Smithfield and is now on the Board of Directors of Smithfield.
Bo Manly was an officer of Smithfield until 1996 when he left to become the Chief Executive officer of Premium Standard Farms. In 2006, Manly left Premium Standard Farms to rejoin Smithfield and now serves as the Chief Financial Officer for Smithfield. Smithfield paid while Manly was an officer what was at the time the largest fine ever in the entire Nation for violations of the Clean Water Act. While Manly was CEO at Premium Standard Farms, it was fined the most of any company in Missouri history for violations of State and Federal environmental laws. With the acquisition of Premium Standard Farms 2008, Smithfield now has the dubious distinction of having paid the largest fine in the history of the Clean Water act and the most fines ever in both the States of Missouri and North Carolina of any company in any industry for violations of State and Federal environmental laws.
1 BusinessWeek, May 21, 2001.
2 The News & Observer (Raleigh). February 22, 1995.
3 New York Times, “Continental Grain to Settle Fraud Case”, November 26, 1996; Washington Post, November 6, 1996.