Know thy enemy: Smithfield’s porky expansion into Eastern Europe
Portrait of the corporation as sociopath: There's some essential reading about the pork company we love to hate in the Times' business section this morning (thanks Holly!). Facing increasing restrictions in the U.S. about odor control, manure management, and its vertical integration practices, Smithfield a few years ago took its North Carolina game plan to Poland and Romania. There, the company moved nimbly through weak economies and political and regulatory systems, rolling up millions in Euros' worth of subsidies at the same time. In addition to the environmental impact, the effect on local farmers has been huge: in Romania, the number of hog farmers has declined 90% since 2003; Poland is down 56% since 1996. Other subsidies Smithfield has utilized have helped it export cheap pork scraps from Poland to Africa, where some hog farmers also are giving up because they cannot compete. (New York Times)
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