Maryland poultry pollution trial winds up

December 5, 2012

The Associated Press

BALTIMORE —  Attorneys have finished their closing arguments in a closely watched trial pitting environmentalists against an Eastern Shore farmer and poultry giant Perdue.

Nearly 100 spectators watched the closing arguments Nov. 30 in U.S. District Court. The Waterkeeper Alliance claims that Berlin-based Hudson Farm is violating the federal Clean Water Act by polluting a nearby river. And it claims Perdue should be held accountable for the actions of its grower.

Defense attorneys said the plaintiffs haven’t proved their case and said a ruling against the farm could have far-reaching implications for farmers, the poultry industry and the Eastern Shore. Attorneys for the environmental group say they are only asking the court to enforce federal law.

The judge said he hopes to issue a ruling by the end of the year.

Perdue Farms released the following statement:

In closing arguments today Perdue’s attorneys reiterated that this lawsuit is not about stopping pollution but part of the Waterkeeper Alliance’s war on the poultry industry declared at the Eastern Shore Poultry Summit in 2007. We are confident the judge will see that the Waterkeeper Alliance and Assateague Coastal Trust came to court to advance an agenda rather than right a wrong.

This case should have ended three years ago when Assateague Coastal Trust and the Waterkeeper Alliance found out that they incorrectly identified legal biosolids as a pile of chicken manure. Instead, these radical environmental activists used the taxpayer-funded University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic to wage a campaign against contemporary animal agriculture — and against a hardworking Maryland farm family. The trial has finally come to a close, and the University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic, despite three years of changing accusations, have failed to prove that the poultry houses on the Hudson family farm were a source of pollution, or that Perdue is responsible for the actions of its independent contractors.

We appreciate Judge Nickerson’s recognition of the importance of this case as evidenced by his attention and diligence in conducting the trial. Despite his giving the plaintiff every opportunity to prove their case, we look forward to being vindicated by his ruling.


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