NC court ruling leaves Smithfield agreement intact

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Smithfield Foods in Tar Heel

RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court leaves intact an agreement in which up to $50 million paid by the world’s largest pork producer is being distributed as environmental grants.

The arrangement reached in 2000 between Smithfield Foods, several subsidiaries and then-Attorney General Mike Easley can continue after a majority of justices determined last week that the money didn’t have to be earmarked for the public schools.

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A conservative activist challenged the agreement in court in 2016, saying the money should be treated like fines or penalties. The attorney general selects grant recipients based on recommendations.

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