WASHINGTON – The Michigan Pork Producers Association and the National Pork Producers Council have asked the Michigan court hearing the legal challenge to their settlement with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to enter an injunction against future trespassing and harassment.
The pork producers went back to court April 6 after the March 26 occupation of NPPC’s Washington offices that was led by the Campaign for Family Farms and their member organizations including the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement.
During that occupation, which lasted until police arrived, members of the Campaign for Family Farms aided by urban activists from the National People’s Action, engaged in loud and abusive behavior, used NPPC’s fax machine to send out defamatory materials, defaced NPPC’s property, invaded personal offices of NPPC employees, and physically accosted two NPPC employees.
“We were reluctant to take this step, but feel the activists’ actions forced us to seek this injunction,” said NPPC president, Barb Determan. “They have chosen to escalate their actions to harassment, attempted obstruction of justice and intimidation.
“What was once a battle over the future of the checkoff, has become a genuine concern for the safety of our staff and the potential for further vandalism of NPPC property. We asked the court to get involved only after efforts to resolve the matter informally were unsuccessful.”
Determan said that over the last few years, producer leaders have attempted to sit down and talk with members of the Campaign for Family Farms. One such meeting in the Des Moines office turned into a shouting match led by the activists.
“Furthermore, during the latest incident,” she said, “the Campaign for Family Farms vowed to return to continue their harassment.”
NPPC supports the settlement agreement announced Feb. 28 in the suit filed against USDA by Michigan pork producers.
As a result of the settlement agreement, the mandatory pork checkoff, defeated in the national checkoff election late last year, will now continue.