Randy Spronk, Edgerton, MN, pork producer and chairman of the Environment Committee for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), says New York Times columnist Mark Bittman has it all wrong when it comes to confined livestock feeding operations.

Bittman’s inaugural food opinion column suggests outlawing these types of operations because he says they harm the environment, torture animals and make meat less safe. Spronk, in a letter to the editor published Feb. 7, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/08/opinion/l08bittman.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss, took issue with the column on three points:

“Yes, there were a couple of highly publicized manure spills involving hog farms in the mid-1990s. But pork producers have made changes to assure that they won’t be repeated. If they are, producers are subject to fines up to $37,500 per day under tough new federal regulations.

“Modern livestock housing is temperature-controlled, well lighted and well ventilated. It keeps animals safe and comfortable and protects them from predators and disease. That’s why the incidence of key food-borne illnesses in this country is going down, not up.

“As for ‘sustainable’ alternatives, perhaps they can produce enough meat for the wealthy, but not for a world population that is growing and demanding more protein,” Spronk concludes.