In the closing moments of the nuisance trial this week, the Texas lawyer tried to persuade the jury that his ongoing attack in the courtroom, while seeking piles of money, isn’t about modern agriculture. That it’s not about pining for “the old days” – days when families kept a few pigs in the backyard wallowing in… well, you go on thinking it was just mud.
And yet, at the beginning of the trial, the Texas lawyer leading the assault made a big to-do about how it used to be, about pigs on grass (on grass!) and family homesteads with a chicken, a pig and a few rows of corn, all over ominous tones about the continuing demise of the family farms. It wasn’t a new tack.
But at the closing this week, there was something new.
He thanked a North Carolina attorney, Mona Lisa Wallace, for bringing him into the courtroom to “stand up” for neighbors when, he said, no one else could or would. Mona Lisa is often in court, too, usually sitting behind him. Another trial lawyer, Lisa Blue Baron, is also there a lot – she’s with a big class-action firm (also in Texas) called Baron and Budd.
But no way, no how, here they were telling the jury, was their effort an attack on modern agriculture.
It was quite a show.
You see, the evidence in court indicated the neighbors had possibly organized a petition before the farm was opened – and that they had threatened to sue if there were problems.
Fear of the unknown is indeed a powerful emotion. Our farms have had complaints filed against them before they even had a single pig.
But the farm that is now on trial did open. And for decades no lawsuit came. And homes were built nearby. And property values went up around Joey Carter’s beautiful, well-run farm, which is now on trial. And neighbors enjoyed their homes and properties – some even rode their four-wheelers all over the farm. It was good, country living.
Then these trial lawyers showed up.
You know why these suits were brought.
We know why.
Greed is a powerful emotion, too.
Has the jury caught on? It’s hard to tell. It’s certainly not a jury of peers to the farmer.
So, we’ll see.
But let’s be clear about one thing: The Texas lawyers and Mona Lisa are, without question, attacking modern agriculture.
Here’s the rest of that story.
Mona Lisa and Baron and Budd have been a part of their own separate group called Trial Lawyers for Public Justice. It just goes by “Public Justice” these days, but it is mostly made up of class-action plaintiff trial lawyers.
Mona Lisa is the group’s past president. She’s one of its recent Trial Lawyer of the Year award winners. Her law firm is the North Carolina “state ambassador” for the group.
Baron and Budd is a key member. Mr. Budd is on the board.
And, get this, “Public Justice” has its own “Food Project.”
Here’s what they say about people who produce our food, in their own words:
“Eighty-five percent of the meat Americans consume are produced by four corporate giants – Tyson, Smithfield, Cargill and JBS. These companies use the methods of mass factory production, including chemical modification, mechanization and concentration, to pump out products where the only concern is their bottom line. They do so without regard for the suffering their methods inflict on animals or the risks their methods post to consumers, neighbors, employees, and the earth.”
They say their “Food Project” is “holding factory farms accountable.”
They go on, again from their own website:
“Factory farms cram thousands upon thousands of animals into overcrowded barns and pens in order to make as much profit as possible, producing more waste than the farms could ever use in crop production. Many of these farms dump their waste in unlined landfills, onto bare open fields, and in multi-thousand ton mounds that sit unused for years. As the toxins in the manure leach into the groundwater, surrounding communities find well water tainted and the air outside putrid. Instead of managing their pollution, factory farms force it on the public, increasing the rate of infant deaths and cancer.”
If you missed the opening or closing statements in the trial, we just caught you up.
It’s, of course, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong. And wrong.
Modern animal agriculture uses safe, indoor housing and a manure treatment system that collects, stores, treats and makes the nutrients available as a fertilizer on a crop. It’s a system, based on research, that was purposefully encouraged by the state and federal governments. It’s a system designed to solve problems (from those “good” old days) with food safety, animal care, environmental impact and farm sustainability. Because of this modern system, we use less water, less land, less energy, etc… than ever before… while feeding a growing population.
Such vitriol from the trial lawyers shouldn’t deserve response.
Our concern? Our regard?
Farmers like Joey Carter, whose farm is on trial, work hard to feed all of us, responsibly, and with care.
We should thank them.
The Carter farm is a blessing, not a nuisance.
– Andy Curliss, CEO