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Harry Cassin
Publisher and Editor

Andy Spalding
Senior Editor

Jessica Tillipman
Senior Editor

Bill Steinman
Senior Editor

Richard L. Cassin
Editor at Large

Elizabeth K. Spahn
Editor Emeritus

Cody Worthington
Contributing Editor

Julie DiMauro
Contributing Editor

Thomas Fox
Contributing Editor

Marc Alain Bohn
Contributing Editor

Bill Waite
Contributing Editor

Shruti J. Shah
Contributing Editor

Russell A. Stamets
Contributing Editor

Richard Bistrong
Contributing Editor

Eric Carlson
Contributing Editor

The trash pigs of Las Vegas are starving

A pig farm outside Las Vegas used to receive 20 tons of food waste a day from restaurants and casinos. But now the Strip is closed, and the farmers are struggling to keep their animals fed.

The farm – Las Vegas Livestock — has around 4,000 pigs, according to a local report. In a month, the owners of the farm think that without the Strip’s food waste, they’ll be down to 2,000 hogs. A crushing blow for the already thin margins farmers operate in.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread deeper into communities, the ripples grow increasingly wide. Businesses and lives that seem far removed from government shelter-in-place orders are acutely affected by the intertwined system of commerce we call the economy.

It doesn’t seem right that the Las Vegas Strip should ever churn out over 20 tons of food waste per day — that’s an unimaginable amount, even in boom times. But who wants local pig farmers to go out of business?

The pig farm’s predicament isn’t strictly a compliance problem. But it demonstrates what happens when there’s a big disturbance in the economy. As Warren Buffet said in a 2004 letter to investors, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

The economic tide is going out now because of the coronavirus crisis. Businesses, and the compliance professionals inside them, are going to be confronted with a multitude of tough decisions. Some of those decisions will result in lost jobs and even lost companies.

Every compliance pro knows the dilemmas when business needs collide with ethical issues. Should we reduce food waste, or do we keep supporting local farms? Who better to lead a discussion like that than a compliance officer?

The first priority for a compliance professional might be a mandate to help their company comply with legislation and regulations. That’s the technical side of the job. But many people in the compliance industry I’ve talked to view what they do as more than that. It’s also an ethical calling — looking at what’s best for individuals, companies, and societies.

As the ripples from the coronavirus pandemic tear through economies the world over, it’s going to be tough, for sure. Should we reduce food waste, or do we keep supporting the local pig farmers?

Just by asking the right questions and helping focus the coming discussion on both business and ethics, compliance professionals can help shape a more thoughtful future.

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  1. What a great story that presents some of the other aspects that a devastation such COVID-19 has on all aspects of life. Our world has become so complex. One man’s trash is another man’s (or at least his pig’s) livelihood. While the story is not directly compliance-related it does speak to the compliance and ethics of people everywhere. If we all do the right thing (that the ethical part) and follow the rules in place (there is the compliance) we will get through this with the least amount of pain and suffering and loss of life that we can. For those who have individually decided the rules do not apply to them (the bad apples in the barrel), re-think it. Surely by now everyone can see that non-compliance will only extend and intensify the measures that have been put in place.

    • Good morning, we do have some compliant issues, we are the only farm in the State of Nevada permitted to raise livestock on food scraps. We are randomly inspected throughout the year.

  2. Thank you for helping tell our story! However we do not refer to our hogs as “Trash pigs”. We raise our hogs humanely and process the food scraps so they are nutritious for our pigs to produce high quality pork. Thanks again and be safe!

  3. Thank you Harry for your great story.

    The shut down of restaurants in Istanbul (where I am now to take care of my mom during this coronavirus pandemic) which fed the street cats and dogs as well as seagulls and birds has been replaced by good samaritans in every neighborhood who are putting out food for them during this coronavirus shut down.

    Perhaps naked swimming can be avoided as you say in your article by ethical, humane behavior looking at what’s best for individuals, animals, environment, companies, societies, countries and the world. So when a tsunami hits– like the coronavirus pandemic which is spreading around the world in a border blind fashion– we are not exposed to the naked bodies of those who don’t know how to hedge.

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