Lithuania’s largest pork producer Saerimner is initiating a damages dispute now the company has lost an environmental court case against the state of Lithuania.
Recently, Kaunas regional court dismissed an appeal of Saerimner together with the Marijampole Regional Environmental Protection Department (MRAAD). The court stated that Saerimner’s Juseviciai pig farming complex in Kalvarija district, which employs 25 people, cannot continue its economic activity.
Stop pig farming
In the court case, six members of the public and two communities have sought to stop pig farming in Juseviciai complex, operating since 1976. They take the view that seven years ago MRAAD has illegally issued an Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) permit.
These land owners, who settled near the existing pig farms, stated they defended the public interest in court. Plaintiffs presented their claim after four years of the farm’s operation under the IPPC permit, although this claim should have been presented no later than one month after the issue under the Lithuanian laws.
The court’s suggestion to resolve the dispute peacefully using a judicial mediation procedure was supported only by Saerimner and the environmental protection department. The plaintiffs refused to seek consensus.
Despite the possibility to seek appeal at the Lithuanian Supreme Court, Saerimner now intends to initiate an investment dispute and claim damages from the state, saving their investments.
Saulius Leonavicius, CEO, Saerimner, commented: “Saerimner acquired Juseviciai complex, operating for more than thirty years already, in 2006, together with a valid IPPC permit. The court stated that the authorities have issued IPPC permit for the previous owners under the false statements. In this process Saerimner was even absent. However, now we have to suffer because of this.”
Mindaugas Zolynas, the attorney of Saerimner, argues that plaintiffs’ request to cease pig farming activity was based on the circumstances, for which the institution, rather than the company is responsible.
Saerimner will appeal the decision in cassation process in the Supreme Court of Lithuania. “We must continue complain this decision, otherwise Lithuania opens the door to legitimate racket: of you want to work, you have to pay your neighbours.”
Algis Baravykas, director of the Lithuanian Pig Producers Association, said the precedent creates a situation that threatens the pig and other livestock farms in Lithuania. “If we want to eat pork, grown in Lithuania, we should produce an additional 1 million pigs. The association estimates that Saerimner grows 20% of all pigs, eaten in the country, in their 11 farming complexes. Consequently, the closing of the farm will result in more foreign pork in the market.”
The total pig sector is employing about 10,000 people in Lithuania.
Saerimner is owned by the International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) and Danish individuals. The company, active in Lithuania for 13 years, has 11 pig farming complexes, modernised after the acquisition of previously abandoned Soviet farms. The company employs about 450 people, mostly in rural areas. Since its establishment, the company has already invested about 190 million Lithuanian litas (€55 million).