Premium Standard Farms filed a report with the Circuit Court of Jackson County announcing plans for an aggressive, two-year schedule for implementing the final phase of Next Generation Technology at its pig farms in northwest Missouri which will sustain its farming operations and protect more than 1100 farm jobs.
The company will install state-of-the-art barn scrapers at seven remaining Premium Standard Farms no later than July 31, 2012, to further reduce barn odours.
"We have advanced an aggressive implementation schedule for the last phase of the installation of next generation technology at our farms to the court, and we trust that the court and all parties will be pleased with this report. It represents a substantial additional investment by our company and reflects our continuing commitment as a good neighbor," said Bill Homann, president of Premium Standard Farms. "Obviously, our first priority was meeting the commitment we made to the Court, but we are equally concerned about protecting our employees and their jobs and the economic well-being of north Missouri."
Working cooperatively to reduce odour
Homann pointed out that during the past 10 years, Premium Standard Farms has worked cooperatively with the court-appointed Management Advisory Team and with the state of Missouri "in what has been an unprecedented development of new Next Generation Technology to reduce odour and address other environmental issues associated with animal agriculture.
"Our employees and their families have made a significant commitment to this company and their communities, and we intend to support that commitment by providing a world-class model for animal agriculture production," Homann added.
The cooperative efforts have been pursuant to two consent judgments - one in 1999 and another in 2004 - that were approved by the court and have spanned the last decade. The 2004 consent judgment is set to expire on July 31, 2010.
$40 million dollars spent
"As we approach the end of those agreements, we are requesting the court to approve the implementation schedule for the last pieces of Next Generation Technology," Homann said. "Although we have already spent about $40 million implementing improved environmental technologies, all of which exceed State and Federal law requirements, we are fully committed to seeing this effort through to the end."
The final technologies to be implemented - barn scrapers and the Sustainable Technology System - were only approved by the Management Advisory Team in late April. "Many of these solutions are first-of-their-kind and clearly beyond anything comparable in the industry requiring not only significant research and development but also months of successful testing thus delaying their implementation until now," Homann pointed out. "Despite the difficulty in designing and creating these next generation, cutting-edge-technologies, we now have everything tested and approved by the Team and have already received scraper components and are ready to install these remaining technologies on our farms."
The Management Advisory Team had identified three sources of odour that needed to be addressed by Next Generation Technology: lagoons, land application and barns. "We have designed and installed covers on our lagoons and we now have in place some of the most advanced land application technologies, equipment and practices in the U.S.," Homann said. "These practices have substantially reduced the amount of odour from the lagoons and land application."
In 1999, Premium Standard Farms also began an intensive effort to reduce barn odour, which proved to be the most challenging aspect of the entire process. The company researched and field tested at least thirteen different technologies to address barn odour, all under the oversight of the independent Management Advisory Team. Ultimately, those research efforts resulted in the recent development of barn scrapers and the Sustainable Technology System.
In its filing (20 July) with the court, Premium Standard Farms noted that Dr. Mike Williams, faculty member at North Carolina State University, Department of Poultry Science, and a member of the Management Advisory Team, has been complimentary of the company's environmental protection efforts. At a March 10 meeting, speaking of Premium Standard Farms' operations in Missouri, Williams said, you "see commercial application of animal waste technology that exceeds anything that you will see…in any other state in the U.S."
Premium Standard Farms, LLC is an independent operating company of Smithfield Foods, Inc. As a member of the Smithfield family of companies, Premium Standard Farms produces consistent, high-quality pork products for a variety of markets and is a recognized leader in environmental stewardship and technology innovation. Premium Standard Farms, LLC has approximately 1,100 employees working on farms in Missouri.