The family-owned Hudson Farm that contracts with Perdue Farms Inc. to raise chickens for the Perdue brand on Maryland’s Eastern Shore is not in violation of the federal Clean Water Act, Senior U.S. District Judge William N. Nickerson has ruled.
The federal judge released his decision in Baltimore Thursday morning.
The ruling was a defeat for an international environmental group led by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and University of Maryland Law School. The 50-page decision ends the lawsuit filed almost three years ago.
Judge Nickerson found the environmental corporation that brought the suit, Waterkeeper Alliance, failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the poultry farm had polluted the Pocomoke River and ultimately Chesapeake Bay.
The decision also says there was insufficient evidence that Perdue, which contracts with Hudson Farm to raise chickens, was involved in its day-to-day operations.
Nickerson said Perdue deserved to be “commended, not condemned” for a program it did have in place to train the chicken farmers it contracts with on how to prevent or minimize water pollution from poultry operations. Perdue suspended the program after Waterkeeper filed the lawsuit, which included claims that it dictated policy for its contract farms.
The fact that the state law school provide legal counsel for a New York City-based environmental group in this lawsuit against a Maryland family farm stirred controversy and led to the creation of a defense fund for the Hudsons.© Food Safety News