''Pork'' dollars for Missouri hog farm raise stink
April 6, 2009
Taxpayer watchdog groups say something smells about $250,000 in federal funding earmarked for a factory farm in northwestern Missouri: Why is it coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development? But Missouri Sen. Kit Bond and the company involved, Premium Standard Farms, defend the money, pointing out that HUD has programs for rural economic development, too. According to the Associated Press, the earmark was set in 2006 while Bond, a Republican, was chairman of an appropriations subcommittee that handled the money. Bond designated it to help Premium Standard Farms, a subsidiary of Smithfield, Va.-based Smithfield Foods Inc., come up with technology to better manage hog waste, a major challenge on farms that house thousands of animals, said a Bond''s spokeswoman. Premium Standard, which has several farms northwest of Kansas City, plans to develop a test "swine manure dewatering" lagoon on a farm near Trenton. It''s designed to reduce the volume of the waste and make it easier to transport. The lagoon highlights the problems with the thousands of earmarks that Congress approves every year, said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense. He noted a $1.8 million earmark uncovered in the recent appropriations bill signed by President Barack Obama. It will allow for research to control the smell of pig dung and was sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. Ellis said big farm businesses should not be receiving public funding to try to fix the massive pollution they create. Bond defended the earmark in a written statement, saying "hog farms provide thousands of jobs for rural communities in Missouri." But, he added, "anyone who lives downwind from one knows manure management can be an issue -- turning this liability into an economic development asset while cleaning up the environment is an important goal and a smart investment." Brian Sullivan, a spokesman for HUD, said he knew of no other department money being spent on pig farms. But HUD is only a pass-through agency that has guidelines to make sure the money is spent properly, he said.