A physicians group that supports a plant-based diet has erected a trio of billboards in Lincoln and Columbus urging Gov. Jim Pillen to phase out factory farms. (Courtesy of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)
LINCOLN — Newly sworn-in Gov. Jim Pillen is firing back at billboards in Lincoln and Columbus that went up recently attacking the governor’s hog operations, calling the billboards “cheap stunts.”
Pillen, in a press release Tuesday, said the aim of the billboards was to “destroy Nebraska’s way of life by shutting down our state’s largest industry – livestock.”
“As the Governor of Nebraska, I will always stand and defend our businesses, farmers and ranchers against radical activists who value cheap stunts over bettering the lives of Nebraskans,” he said in the release.
The billboards were erected by the Washington, D.C.-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine beginning two weeks ago. Pillen and his family own the Pillen Family Farms hog complexes.
They criticize Pillen for the “suffocating stench” generated by “factory farms” and call on him to shift the state to more plant-based, climate friendly agriculture.
The physicians group, which says it has 35 members in Nebraska, promotes a vegetarian diet on its website.
Pillen, in his press release, said the physician’s group failed to acknowledge the “significant economic benefits” from cattle, hogs, dairy and poultry production in the state.
Nebraska has more cattle than people and ranks No. 2 in the nation for cattle on feed. In 2017, the state’s agricultural sector contributed $25.7 billion to Nebraska’s gross state product, or 21.6% of the total, according to the University of Nebraska.
Pillen is the first active farmer elected governor in more than a century.
In 2000, 18 residents who lived near some of Pillen’s hog-confinement operations in Nance and Boone Counties filed a lawsuit, alleging that the hog sites were a nuisance that generated “unbearable” odors. A judge ordered Pillen to take steps to mitigate the odors.
The Examiner reached out to the governor Jan. 9 but he had no comment at that time.
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