Pillen Family Farms’ response to Flatwater Free Press

Gov. Jim Pillen, through a spokesperson, has directed all questions regarding his business history to Pillen Family Farms. The company is currently run by his children Sarah Pillen and Brock Pillen, who serve as co-CEOs.

Pillen Family Farms executives haven’t responded to specific questions from the Flatwater Free Press and Investigative Midwest, its reporting partner on this series, “Pigs and Power.”

However, co-CEO Sarah Pillen emailed a statement to FFP and Investigative Midwest reporters soon after they directed questions to company executives.

Here is that email:

“The below is our written response to your inquiry.  Thank you.

Pillen Family Farms is a family-owned, family-run business that represents three generations of commitment to our family, our communities, and our pigs.  We help feed over 13 million people each year. We could not do this without the commitment of a world-class team. We currently employ over 1,200 people with good paying jobs that help support rural Nebraska areas.

As important as our team, we’ve always placed a strong commitment on being positive environmental stewards of the land. We know this responsibility has kept us in the business for three generations and ultimately will keep us moving forward for years to come. Our farms provide organic fertilizer for over 30,000 acres of cropland each year. Our environmental compliance measures go far beyond regulatory requirements. Since our business began in 1993, we have permitted over one hundred farms with the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE). Not one permit has ever been revoked by either Agency. Since our inception, we have worked closely with DEE staff on annual inspections, well monitoring and other steps to ensure safe nutrient management. We maintain a nutrient management plan for each farm to ensure Nebraska groundwater is protected.

We work daily with one of the top regional consultants in the Midwest to ensure our environmental practices exceed industry standards. We also employ a team of 17 people who work exclusively and tirelessly every day to ensure we properly apply organic nutrients on our neighboring cropland while staying in compliance with all DEE regulations and requests.  

Thanks to our sponsor

Our business has always been guided by our core principles: 1) Do what is right; 2) Do the best you can; and 3) Treat others the way you want to be treated.  These commitments will never change.

We are committed to the well-being of our pigs, our team members, and the communities where we all work and raise our families.”

Sarah Pillen
Co-CEO of Pillen Family Farms


Sounds like someone with as much $$$ as the Governor should be able to solve his nitrate problem.

I think the main point is that Pillen as Governor has control over environmental and other regulations that apply to his businesses which is a conflict of interest. That and his unwillingness to actually address the issue and generally act like he is above the law.

Flat water pressure is finally addressing issues that have been needed to get addressed for years. Please keep up the good work. You are a long time coming.

how can pillen farms claim adherence to environmental regulations when they have consistently exceeded standards at many of the test stations? they clearly fail to meet standards with apparently no reprocussions. and the grinning governor dodges the questions with aplomb

how can pillen farms claim adherence to environmental regulations when they have consistently exceeded standards at many of the test stations? they clearly fail to meet standards with apparently no reprocussions. and the grinning governor dodges the questions

The Governor oversees the regulatory process that affect his businesses. Convenient! But not a good idea if Nebraskans value trust in government. Simple solution. He should put his business in a blind trust or resign. Having kids running the company doesn’t cut it. Where’s the integrity and commitment to service?
Thanks for the great reporting on an important local story!

I am not convinced that one can be totally committed to well being of something they plan to slaughter and consume! But I think I get it! 🤷‍♂️

Get the hell off of the Governor’s back! Damn it! You might get credibility if you guys would investigate Democrats the same!

Nebraska is a cancer hotspot…high concentration of nitrates in the groundwater is one of the leading factors. But hey, let’s give our inarticulate governor a pass because he once played football for NU.

Cancer doesnt have a political affiliation. The fact FFP gave Pillen Family Farms to speak their side, publishing it in its entirety. This is ethical and good journalism. A political hit job would not have published the Pillen response which was eloquent, thoughtful, and visibly valid. Actually what this piece does is take what I thought might be a pig baron ran amok and make be see that Nebraskas water problems are more then just pigs. Pillen is apart of our community. Their children work and play amongst us and drink the same water. The facts I take away: the nitrate levels dont scientifically a appear to be attached solely to pig farms, water pollution is all of our problems, and we can’t solve them by starving millions of people. We need to look at these issues without pointing political fingers that make people afraid to speak truths about pollution, our environment, or our government. Now, as far as the Govenor is concerned. Nobody raised issue when Ben Nelson flew to Japan to sell more Nebraska beef in the 90’s. He also, however, did not own vast cattle farms. It would be wise to appoint an economic Czar to make that trip to Vietnam next time. Perhaps a meat eating Democrat for effect, lol.

Now, I think we could have a thoughtful debate about the problems with electric buses. However, a good faith discussions cannot begin with the words false. They ARE after all electric. The fact that our electricity is obtained from coal burning is valid for example. What is the problem with wanting zero carbon tho? It’s not false to say, “hey, I don’t want to drink nitrate water”. Look at all the pictures of old farms. What’s in the picture next to the barn? A windmill attached to the river. Any future solution to climate disasters is going to run directly through our farmlands. They are the only ones that can farm the sun, the wind, or otherwise for God’s sake.

FFP is just a left wing radical news outlet that proves the saying better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt

No, the ownership of the whole of Nebraska’s nitrate problem is not solely on Owen Jim, though his, “three generation” business isn’t innocent in its contribution to the problem. This isn’t the primary issue raised in the, “hit pieces” some take issue with, the prime mover is how an establishment’s bob-and-weave through grey areas of legality insured its quarterly capital moved up and to the right without so much as inconvenient bump in the road; that business’ leader is now our governor. The conversation on the nature of business that has been going on for eons, now is not the primary focus – what *is* is the idea of a businessman, powerful enough to skirt a dozen or so laws and regulations (utilizing practices detrimental to the local ecosystems his hog farms inhabit) using the powers of Governorship to deregulate illegal and unethical practices, and eliminate oversight and the very EPA regulations in place to tamp down these problems; he just asked congress to override California’s Prop 12 in June. If you don’t believe me, it’s not important, I guarantee he’ll prove himself again in no time.

Whether you vote R or D, a politician who abides by radio silence to end runaround all dialogue, and whose idea of democracy and congeniality is to expand his business by steamrolling through decades of painstakingly writ legislation that did its best to err middle-ground is not your leader – he is a man who is only out for himself. This response letter is 100% pure fluff, no substantive evidence to the contrary of what has been uncovered through journalistic rigor. Just empty proclamations about investigating, and regulating itself, and finally determining it won, and did nothing wrong. You cannot take something like this on its face without empirical proof, this letter is meaningless.

P.S. All the hubbub about electric vehicles and windmills is pure tu quoque, i.e. “whataboutism.” Another discussion, another time.



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