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COFCO Joycome pig farms in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, China


With vast grassland and pasture resources, and a breeding feed production area, Inner Mongolia is planned as a potential expanding area for pig breeding by the Ministry of Agriculture (as Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs since March 2018). On September 4, 2013, COFCO Meat Holdings, Ltd. and the People's Government of Ongniud Banner of Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia signed a cooperation agreement on the meat industry chain project in COFCO Plaza. [1] As China’s largest state-run food processing, manufacturing and trading company, COFCO Group launched the project for creating the “Technology Model Zone for Raising a Million Head of Pigs” on the land expropriated from local herders mainly in Ongniud Banner, soon after the agreement was signed.

On March 7, 2014, COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Co., Ltd. was established with a registered capital of US$71.02 million. [2] The “One Million Head of Pigs Project in Chifeng” was planned to be completed in 2016 with 3 phases. According to COFCO Joycome, the first phase with facilities for 200,000 pigs started the construction in April and the operation in October 2014”, and the second phase with facilities for 300,000 pigs started to operate in 2015. [3] The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the first phase was submitted in September 2014 and approved in October 2014; for the second phase, the EIA was submitted in May 2014 and approved in September 2015, according to the 2018 evaluations and adjustments of the implementation of environmental regulations for the two phases. [4][5][6]

Different waves of protests against the construction of the project and the pollution from the discarded dead pigs from those COFCO farms were reported in this area.

In 2014, COFCO obtained land from the local government without the local herders’ free, prior, and informed consent, herders stood up to oppose the local authorities’ illegal land appropriation and the powerful Chinese corporate interests. However, they didn’t succeed in defending their land, which is vital to the traditions of the southern Mongolians. Clashes between the herders and local authorities have become increasingly frequent. Starting from October 17, 2016, nearly 200 local Mongolian herders marched toward the COFCO pig farm construction site and blocked the road as they have perceived that the “Technology Model Zone for Raising a Million Head of Pigs” is not only a flagrant denial of traditional pastoralist ways of life, but also a further destruction to the already devastated natural environment in this area. The herders were holding signs reading “Our land, our territory, inherited from our ancestors, must be inherited to our children and grandchildren!” and “We Mongolians are the strongest when we unite together!”, or “Never give up an inch of our land even if God begs for it!” Herders protested for 4 days until the local authorities dispatched a dozen police vehicles to put down the protest. At least three herders were arrested and detained. [7][8]

The local environmental protection bureau repeatedly receives complaints about the pollution from the COFCO farms. On July 4, 2016, the on-site inspection by the Environmental Protection Bureau of Ongniud Banner found that the first and second phase projects of COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Co. Ltd. had not passed the acceptance check of environmental protection facilities. On the 7th, the Environmental Protection Agency issued the "Decision on Correcting the Illegal Act" and ordered the company to stop hog production until the completion of the environmental protection facilities by December 30, 2016. However, despite the complaints and the suspension orders, the pig farms continued to operate as usual.

Another on-site inspection by the Environmental Protection Bureau of Ongniud Banner on March 30, 2017 still found the same problem for the first phase and the lack of a biogas station and other environmental facilities suggested in the EIA report had not been built for the second phase, which resulted in untreated sewage straightly discharged into the grazing land. On April 13, COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Ltd. was subject to administrative penalties by the Environmental Protection Bureau of Ongniud Banner and CNY 60,000 fines were imposed to its first and second phase of the project respectively. [9]

Since April 24, 2017, hundreds of herders in Ongniud Banner were unbearable to endure the local “COFCO Group” pig farms, which discarded a large number of dead pigs and seriously polluted the environment. They held banners with "opposing against polluting enterprises, protecting the right to life, the Ongniud Banner of Chifeng City should drive out of the polluting pig farms" and "adhering to green development and opposing polluting enterprises" etc. to protest and asked the farms to move out of the area. [10] The pictures show that many dead pigs have been disposed in the wild and exposed to the air. According to the protesters, it is getting more and more difficult for them to access clean drinking water as the uncontrolled disposal of dead pigs and the untreated sewage discharge into the rivers and underground water. People were suffering from the overwhelming stench as well as the loss of their livelihoods. [11]

In May, 2017, hundreds of farmers and herders in Ongniud Banner blocked roads for several days, protesting against the waste discharge from the COFCO pig farms and its impacts on health and the environment. Seven protesters were detained but later five of them have been released, while the other two have been formally arrested, including the initiator of the online group. [12]

In a statement responding to the pollution issue in June 2017, COFCO says, "...The Group attached great importance to the report concerning the pollution caused by COFCO Chifeng, and carried out self-examination instantly. It was confirmed there is misconduct during the implementation of environmental protection measures. COFCO Chifeng has corrected the problem and improved the system...The COFCO Meat strictly complies with national laws and regulations on waste disposal in livestock and poultry farming. Ever since the operation of the Chifeng project, the company invested 500 million CNY in improving facilities to protect the environment, which has effectively mitigated the stench of the farm. In the next step, the company will invest another 500 million CNY to further promote environment protections..." [13]

On December 21, 2017, the People's Government of Ongniud Banner in Chifeng City issued a notice, stating that “…after more than five months of rectification, the existing problems in the prevention and control of water, gas and soil pollution have been basically rectified in COFCO Joycome Ltd….sick and dead pigs will be treated in a newly-built harmless treatment station…the company was imposed a fine of CNY 640,000…the former deputy manager of COFCO Meat and the manager of COFCO Joycome were dismissed… people who are suspected of destroying property, seeking troubles, and obstructing official duties and investigations in the process of expressing appeals, have been transferred to the prosecuting apparatus for further review and prosecution…” [14]

Only until January and May 2018, acceptance checks of environmental protection facilities were finally done for the first phase and the second phase of the COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Ltd. “One Million Head of Pigs Project”.[4][5][6]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:COFCO Joycome pig farms in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, China
State or province: Inner Mongolia
Location of conflict:Ongniud Banner (Wengniuteqi), Chifeng City
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Specific commodities:Meat
Live Animals

Project Details and Actors

Project details

On March 7, 2014, COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Co., Ltd. was established with a registered capital of US$71.02 million. [2]

The “One Million Head of Pigs Project in Chifeng” was planned to be completed in 2016 with 3 phases. According to COFCO Joycome, the first phase with facilities for 200,000 pigs started the construction in April and the operation in October 2014”, and the second phase with facilities for 300,000 pigs started to operate in 2015. [3]

It's reported that the smell of dead pigs could spread to a distance of 30 km. Based on the number of local populations and the extent of the surrounding area, the affected population is estimated to be 8,000 to 10,000. [3]

Project area:2,000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project71,020,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:8,000 -10,000
Start of the conflict:17/10/2016
End of the conflict:2018
Company names or state enterprises:COFCO Meat Holdings Limited (COFCO Meat) from China - Owner
China National Cereals, Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) from China - Investor and controller
COFCO Joycome (Chifeng) Co., Ltd. from China - operating company for hog production of COFCO in Chifeng
Relevant government actors:-People's Government of Ongniud Banner
-Environmental Protection Bureau of Ongniud Banner

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Development of a network/collective action
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Soil contamination, Food insecurity (crop damage), Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Waste overflow
Health ImpactsPotential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Other socio-economic impactsmuch longer distance to access clean water


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Environmental improvements, rehabilitation/restoration of area
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Fines imposed on the company.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Fines were imposed on COFCO; rectifications of environmental facilities were implemented; however, there are many contradictions in different statements from the company and the official bureau of the government; moreover, the problems related the land and livelihoods of herders have not been addressed.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)


[5]建设项目竣工验收环境保护验收监测报告:中粮家佳康(赤峰)有限公司20万头生猪健康生态养殖项目 (accessed on 04-10-2018)

[6]工程建设项目竣工环境保护验收报告:中粮家佳康(赤峰)有限公司100万头生猪健康生态养殖项目(二期)40万头生猪健康生态养殖 (accessed on 04-10-2018)


References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] 2017 Annual Report: COFCO Meat Holdings Limited (accessed on 2018-10-04)

[1]中粮肉食与内蒙古赤峰市翁牛特旗人民政府签署合作协议(accessed on 04-10-2018)

[3]中粮养猪场污染内蒙古牧场:污水粪便直排 恶臭难散(accessed on 2018-09-30)

[7] Southern Mongolia: Community Herders Protest Pig Farm Project on Grazing Land

[8] Mongolian herders protest pig farm construction in China (accessed on 04-10-2018)

[9] China: Herders in Inner Mongolia protest against COFCO Joycome pig farms that allegedly discharge untreated sewage into grazing land, two protestors arrested (accessed on 04-10-2018)

[11]中粮”死猪抛野外污染环境 内蒙数百农牧民抗议 (accessed on 04-10-2018)

[12]内蒙古农牧民抗议国企污染被刑拘 2人被批捕(accessed on 04-10-2018)

[13]中粮回应下属企业环境污染问题:改进工作已完成 (accessed on 04-10-2018)

[15]内蒙古数百农牧民堵路抗议中粮集团污染 18人被抓

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[10]Southern Mongolia:内蒙古昭乌达盟翁牛特旗牧民发动抗议

Meta information

Contributor:EnvJustice, ICTA-UAB/NWAFU interns
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3761



Herders protest[11]


waste water [11]


Herders blocked the road to the pig farms[15]


Dead pigs and untreated sewage discharge polluted the river[3]


disposed dead pigs[11]