State Representative Jimmy Dixon Collected $115,000 from Big Pork, Then Tried to Make the Industry’s Legal Troubles Go Away | North Carolina | Indy Week
Pin It

State Representative Jimmy Dixon Collected $115,000 from Big Pork, Then Tried to Make the Industry’s Legal Troubles Go Away 

click to enlarge Jimmy Dixon

Photo courtesy of NCGA

Jimmy Dixon

State Representative Jimmy Dixon, R-Wayne and Duplin, the first to speak during a packed committee hearing inside the legislature last Wednesday, kicked things off with a strange request. 

"I want to take us back a few years, to 1859, when soon-to-be President Abraham Lincoln addressed the opening day of the Wisconsin Agriculture Fair," he said. "I will use that [speech] as a springboard in explaining this bill."

It's an apt metaphor for the modern state GOP: Why go forward when you can go back 150 years? The irony didn't go unnoticed. "I was hoping that you would at least come to the later eighteen-hundreds, when African Americans weren't enslaved," quipped Representative Amos Quick, D-Guilford. 

Quick understood that Dixon's reference—a meandering way to remind the crowd that farmers produce our food, so we should support them—was all the more curious given the demographic makeup of the communities likely to suffer under the bill they were there to discuss: people of color living near industrial hog farms.

The legislation, House Bill 467, would shield the hog industry from myriad kinds of legal claims. It would prevent plaintiffs from recovering damages that aren't property-value-related, including anything stemming from health, pain, or lost-income concerns. (Property owners could likely only collect about $7,000 in damages over a three-year period, per a statutory limit.) And, because it doesn't grandfather in active cases, it would also block twenty-six pending federal lawsuits filed against Murphy-Brown, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods.

That's worrisome to environmental activists and stakeholders living near the hog farms. They say the bill would undermine their ability to protect themselves, the environment, and their properties from the harms caused by the state's hog farms—and, they add, it will disproportionately affect communities of color.

"This is about race," Larry Baldwin of the Crystal Coast Waterkeeper organization told the committee. "This bill has got to go. It's not about protecting the people; it's about protecting the industry. If you pass HB 476, who are you protecting? Because it's not a lot of people you're seeing in this room."

North Carolina's industrial hog farms are notoriously toxic, storing millions of gallons of feces and urine in open-air cesspools. When those pools fill up, activists say, the hog waste sprays into the air and can even make its way into people's homes.

Dixon, a longtime farmer, said he just wants to find the "proper remedy when there is an instance of temporary or permanent nuisance."

Perhaps. But when you look at his campaign contributors, it's hard to imagine that Dixon's not acting as a friend of the pork industry. He's certainly its beneficiary. According to campaign finance records, over the course of his career Dixon has received more than $115,000 from Big Pork, including: $9,500 from the N.C. Pork Council; more than $20,000 from the Maxwell family, which owns the Goldsboro Milling Company, the tenth-largest swine producer in the United States; $9,000 from Walter Pelletier and $3,000 from John Pike, both of whom also have ties to Goldsboro Milling; $37,500 from Prestage Farms; and $36,250 from donors associated with Murphy-Brown, the company facing more than two dozen federal lawsuits that this legislation would effectively negate.

Amid the outcry, the committee delayed a vote on HB 467. Dixon did not respond to the INDY's request for comment.

"I live in the middle of around twenty hog farms," Nick Woodard, who drove several hours from eastern North Carolina to attend the hearing, told the INDY. "And they smell so bad you can hardly come outside most of the time. And we just want to try to stop the pollution. The hog farms are polluting our areas, and we want to try to stop them."

This article appeared in print with the headline "Pigs in Slop."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in North Carolina



Twitter Activity

Comments

I fear the N&O wants to bet its future on being the "newspaper of record" for state government and is …

by ct on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

To clarify my comment in the article: my feelings are that the reader-focused shift is not NECESSARILY a bad move.

by andrew losowsky on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

Most Recent Comments

I fear the N&O wants to bet its future on being the "newspaper of record" for state government and is …

by ct on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

To clarify my comment in the article: my feelings are that the reader-focused shift is not NECESSARILY a bad move.

by andrew losowsky on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

I dropped my long-time subscription to the N&O after a columnist wrote a love letter to Art Pope because he …

by SomeCallMe...Tim on The N&O Promises Less Spinach. What Does That Mean for Local News Consumers? (North Carolina)

I guess we wouldn't want to help uplift any marginalized people at UNC now would we?

If we want …

by ammi on Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wants to Target Affirmative Action. How Will That Affect UNC? (North Carolina)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation