The Waterkeeper Alliance filed suit in 2010 against the Hudson family, which raises chickens for Perdue Farms, alleging manure from their chicken farm polluted a Chesapeake Bay tributary. Since then, farmers and organizations across the U.S. rallied and have raised more than $200,000 to help the family pay legal bills. Perdue Farms is also a defendant. Waterkeeper Alliance argues the company "shares responsibility with the Hudsons for manure from their chicken houses that allegedly washed off the farm, because the company owns the Cornish game hens raised there." But, the company says it's not responsible because the family is an independent contractor.
Perdue has donated $70,000 to help the Hudsons, and paid last year to set up the Maryland Family Farmers Legal Defense Fund and to maintain the website of Save Farm Families. The company said it's been "very upfront" about underwriting Save Farm Families. It was listed as one of the group's sponsors and its logo appears on the website's homepage. Lee Richardson, a fundraising trustee, said all donated money goes to pay the Hudsons' legal fees and none is spent on fundraising or public relations.
The Waterkeeper Alliance has raised almost as much money for its efforts. Environmental activists maintain "the litigation has been miscast by the campaign as a war on family farmers, when in fact it's aiming to get big poultry companies to take legal and financial responsibility for the waste its birds produce," Wheeler reports.