Battle of Big Bethel, VA 1861

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recently posted the following headline: The HSUS Serves Notices of Intent to Sue More than 50 Pig Confinement Facilities for Toxic Air Pollution.  At first glance it does not make sense for a program whose alleged mission is to protect animals from abusive treatment to concern itself with environmental issues.  However, if the mission is not just the protection of animals, but to end “production agriculture” this strategy makes perfect sense.  Some may believe that production agriculture and abusive treatment of livestock are one in the same.  Others believe that HSUS’ mission is to end meat consumption all together.  Arguing HSUS’ mission or intentions is a topic for different blog.

In sum, HSUS filed notice of intent to sue 51 large pig operations in Iowa, North Carolina, and Oklahoma for failing to report the release of ammonia from the confinements.  The EPA requires a facility to report any release of 100 pounds of ammonia within a 24 hour period.  HSUS has admittedly not performed any air quality tests at any of the targeted facilities.  Rather, the allegations stem from a mathematical formula found on the EPA’s website which estimates the amount of ammonia produced by an average pig per day multiplied by the number confined in the facility.  HSUS does not hide the fact that its concern with ammonia releases is an obvious flank attack on facilities using gestation crates.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) submitted the following response:

“It is important to point out that HSUS is not alleging environmental harm but rather paperwork violations of EPA’s emissions reporting rule. Additionally, it is worth noting that when the reporting rule went into effect in 2009 there was widespread confusion about it, with some states refusing to accept report, one state claiming EPA notices to report emissions were an Internet hoax and EPA’s Region 4 office initially telling producers and states there was no reporting requirement.” – Pork Network

I do not know how the use of gestation crates specifically relates to ammonia production and would appreciate any information explaining a direct correlation.  However, HSUS believes attacking the environmental flank of large hog operations will further the HSUS mission, however, expansive that mission may be.