Letter to the editor: Behind the scenes of ‘farm families’
Published 6:13 pm Wednesday, March 2, 2016
To the Editor,
Most viewers of local TV stations have no doubt seen ads sponsored by a group calling itself North Carolina Farm Families. NCFF presents itself as a genuine grassroots organization organized and funded by local family hog farmers. It may, in fact, be nothing of the sort. In reality, NCFF may very well be a front group organized and funded by national and international hog industry corporations. “Astroturf” groups, as they are called, deploy purported citizen’s groups — like NCFF — to advocate for laws and regulations favored by big business, not ordinary local citizens.
It may be that the TV ads are nothing more than a blatant public relations attempt funded by corporations to defend themselves against lawsuits brought by genuine NC grassroots groups (like Neuse Riverkeepers) that exist to protect NC waters and people from corporate abuse and pollution.
The NCFF website includes a list of its major financial backers. Included are some of the nation’s and world’s largest hog processors: Smithfield, Prestige Farms, JC Howard Farms (recently sued by Neuse Riverkeepers for dumping hog manure into Neuse River) and Maxwell Farms. Not one “local family farm” (defined according to the TV ads as a nuclear family which owns and raises its own animals) is listed. The list also includes the NC Pork Council, a trade group organized to promote the hog industry and whose list of supporters includes many of the same companies.
In 2015, NCFF heard from a genuine family hog farmer in the form of a written response to an 2015 newspaper article by the president of NCFF: “I am a hog farmer (21 years), a NC Family Farmer (more than 50 years) and it is my opinion that this group was formed very quickly, freely uses my name and speaks for me or on my behalf, but I had no input into the organization of this group. Who are you? I know the president, but do not know any other officers. Were there any organization meetings held prior to commissioning this group to speak for me? I would appreciate an answer.”