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Mona Lisa Wallace on the Case Against Smithfield Foods

It used to be that America’s hogs were produced on small farms – with anywhere from a couple of dozen hogs to a couple of hundred.

Then hog farms were replaced with hog factories.

They are now called confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). 

The major CAFO player, Smithfield Foods, contracts out with small operators, mostly in eastern North Carolina. Buildings are built to house thousands of hogs. 

Hogs produce anywhere from five to ten times more waste than humans. They relieve themselves on slatted floors. The waste drops down through pipes into unlined lagoons. And the resulting smell and disease is a disaster for those living in the surrounding communities – mostly African American residents whose families have lived there for generations.

Their complaints landed on deaf ears until about 2013, when they met a lawyer named Mona Lisa Wallace.

She sued Smithfield arguing that the company’s factory operations were interfering with the reasonable use and enjoyment of her clients’ homes.