News & Politics

The Biggest Hog In the World

Joseph W. Luter III, boss hog at the nation's biggest pork producer, is buying out his competitors, squeezing out the family farmers who raise hogs, and contaminating the air and water for miles around.
Time for today's Hog Report!

Where does the biggest hog in the world live? Not in some hog pen on a farm in Iowa, or North Carolina. No, he lives in a swank apartment above Park Avenue in New York City -- except when he's wallowing in his other home in Aspen, Colorado.

Joseph W. Luter III is his name, and he's boss hog at Smithfield Foods, which is the nation's biggest hog producer, as well as the biggest pork processor, accounting for more than a fifth of the pork in the USA. Mr. Luter believes in controlling the pork market from "birth to bacon," and he's proceeding to do that by buying out his competitors, squeezing out the family farmers who raise hogs, and feeling free to contaminate the air and water for miles around. Of course, Mr. Joe doesn't have to breathe or drink the hog waste from his polluting factories, because -- remember? -- he's living in a Park Avenue high rise and enjoying the pure mountain air of Aspen.

The Big Hog is unapologetic for the putrid smells and polluted waters he creates, noting simply that they're the price of progress ... and of profits for Smithfield. Yes, he's locking up the market, but, he says, "What we did in the pork industry is what Perdue and Tyson did in the poultry business." Oh, good -- one bullying monopoly excuses another.

As for using his market power to crush family farmers, Luter is colder than a frozen pork chop: "The bottom line is that small farmers have been disappearing for 100 years," he says, impatient to complete the process. Meanwhile, Luter is outraged that farmers, environmentalists, and other citizens are rebelling against his hoggishness and passing laws to reign in his greed. So, he's buying pork factories in places like Poland, saying "The current hostility from interest groups in this country has made other parts of the world look good to us."

This is Jim Hightower saying ... Adios, Joe ... we hope you enjoy those Polish winters!