Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Perdue Farms underwriting campaign to help chicken-raising family sued by environmental group

"What began as a grass-roots effort by some Eastern Shore farmers to help one of their own has morphed over the past year into a sophisticated fundraising and public-relations campaign that portrays the lawsuit as a David vs. Goliath struggle between a fourth-generation farm family and a well-heeled New York environmental group bent on crushing what it calls 'factory farming,'" reports Timothy Wheeler of The Baltimore Sun.

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so - lost in translation...who the heck cares about the water and who is consuming it and the fish who swim in it?? why not just FIX the problem??? how are people who don't want their water supply poisoned "GOLIATH"? THIS is exactly what is WRONG with this country! What if Jack Ass Perdue fave the local farmer those funds to help rectify the problem??? WHAT IF PEOPLE CARED MORE ABOUT GETTING THINGS RIGHT THAN LITIGATION????