Brazilian Meatpacker Polluting US River To Pocket Farm Bailout Millions


Sarah Okeson, The National Memo

March 12, 2019


The National Memo is a political newsletter and website that combines the spirit of investigative journalism with new technology and ideas


A Brazilian-owned meatpacking firm that buys pork from an Arkansas farm suspected of fouling our nation’s first national river would receive about $5 million from Trump’s bailout program for American farmers hurt by his trade war.


JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, will sell 1.8 million pounds of pork products through a Trump bailout program that buys surplus commodities from farmers and ranchers.


“We at the Buffalo River Watershed Alliance find it ironic, and saddening, that bailout money intended to help American farmers is instead going to JBS, a multinational meatpacker based in Brazil,” said Gordon Watkins, president of the alliance. “…The pork gets shipped away, Brazil gets the money and the Buffalo gets degraded. It’s too bad this bailout money couldn’t be used to close or relocate this facility to a less sensitive location.”


The Buffalo River was befouled last summer by algae that sickened people, but the U.S. Geological Survey under Trump can’t decide if the nearby pig farm and more than 3 million gallons of pig waste those pigs produce each year are to blame.


A spokesperson for the USDA said the agency buys American commodities produced on American farms by American farmers.


“…regardless of who the vendor is, the products purchased are grown in the U.S. and benefit U.S. farmers,” the agency spokesperson said. “JBS qualifies as a bidder under this criteria.”


In 2017, a conservation group, American Rivers, included the Buffalo on its annual list of the 10 most endangered rivers in our country because of pollution from the hog farm...


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