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Press Releases: Factory FarmsPress Releases Found: 23
February 9, 2015
Annapolis, MD—Maryland Senator Richard Madaleno (D-18) introduced two pieces of legislation on the Senate floor today that will create new protections for poultry contract growers while also bringing equity to ongoing efforts to clean up the Chesapeake Bay by requiring some of the biggest polluters of the Bay to contribute to conservation measures. Madaleno’s sponsorship of the Farmers’ Rights Act and the Bay Tax Equity Act is a critical first step toward correcting injustices within Maryland’s agricultural sector that have had a negative impact on the livelihoods of local growers and the health of the Bay.
The Farmers’ Rights Act will help Maryland lawmakers take meaningful steps toward protecting the region’s contract growers from the often-abusive practices of giant poultry companies by putting forth a set of guaranteed grower’s rights, while prohibiting many of the abusive practices, that force contract growers into poor working conditions and leave them with a tremendous amount of debt.
The Bay Tax Equity Act, which is a new version of legislation introduced last year, will hold Maryland’s poultry companies, some of the biggest polluters of the Bay, partially accountable for their contribution to nutrient pollution in the Chesapeake Bay by requiring them to pay their fair share towards the necessary costs of Bay restoration. The bill would require poultry companies to contribute to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Cover Crop program, a $20 million per year initiative designed largely to address the massive amounts of excess chicken waste produced on the Eastern Shore where the chicken companies operate. Presently, this program is funded entirely by state taxpayers, including the diversion of funds from the annual $60 tax placed on the state’s septic users. By shifting the financial burden of the Cover Crop program over to the profitable companies who create the problem in the first place, the BTEA would allow 100 percent of the septic money collected to go towards the critical need of upgrading the state’s septic systems.
January 28, 2015
A federal judge dismissed a challenge brought by the American Farm Bureau Federation and National Pork Producers Council against the Environmental Protection Agency in Minneapolis late yesterday. The industry groups were seeking to block the federal agency’s ability to release public information regarding highly polluting factory farms to citizens concerned about clean water. Food & Water Watch (FWW), Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (ICCI) and The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP), represented by lawyers at the Government Accountability Project (GAP), had intervened in the case on behalf of citizens who have a right to protect their communities and their environment from polluting factory farms and to safeguard open government.
October 15, 2014
“Twenty-three thousand people die each year in the United States from antibiotic resistant infections,” says Eleanor Bravo, Food & Water Watch Southwest organizer. “The public and elected leaders must take action to keep antibiotics working for people. I commend the Santa Fe and Albuquerque City Councils for recognizing the urgency of this situation and taking the lead in in the Southwest.”
July 31, 2014
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released the final rule that will transfer most poultry inspection from government inspectors to the companies so they can police themselves. With the poultry industry standing to gain financially due to increased production and fewer regulatory requirements, the plan is a gift from the Obama administration to the industry, one that will undermine consumer and worker safety, as well as animal welfare.
October 11, 2013
Statement: In just three days, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) went from threatening to shut down Foster Farms due to serious food safety lapses to declaring last night that the company had made a remarkable recovery. The agency is allowing Foster Farms to continue operations at three of its plants that appear to be implicated in producing salmonella-contaminated poultry that have sickened at least 278 consumers. While company officials have expressed their regret over the illnesses that its products have caused, it still refuses to recall its products and FSIS seems to be fine with that.
September 13, 2013
“It is widely known that phosphorous pollution from manure applied to farmland is a major source of pollution in the Chesapeake Bay. Phosphorous pollution creates algae blooms that consume oxygen and create “dead zones” where fish and shellfish cannot survive, block sunlight that is needed for underwater Bay grasses and smother aquatic life on the floor of the Bay.
“EPA statistics reveal that agriculture alone contributes 42 percent of the phosphorous pollution in the Bay; manure accounts for 37 percent of the loads of phosphorus to the waterway. This isn’t surprising since there are over 304 million chickens raised in Maryland that produce 1.3 billion pounds of waste annually, much of which gets dumped untreated onto fields, where it can leach into groundwater or run-off into the Bay.
“Farmland in the Lower Eastern Shore, where the chicken industry is most active, is already saturated with phosphorus. According to researchers, up to 80 percent of the fields sampled on the Lower Eastern Shore contain so much phosphorus that they simply can’t absorb anymore. Worse yet, a recent study suggests that even if phosphorous application were stopped today, it would take decades to reduce phosphorous levels in soils sufficient to protect our waterways.
August 30, 2013
Statement from Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter Washington, D.C.—“It’s common practice for government agencies to release information they hope to sneak past consumers on Friday afternoons before a holiday weekend. So it’s not surprising that this afternoon the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) gave the green light to certain chicken […]
July 9, 2013
Press Release: A coalition of farm, rural and consumer organizations delivered a letter to the members of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States urging them to recommend that the Obama administration reject the proposed Shuanghui International Holdings, Ltd. acquisition of Smithfield Foods.
January 29, 2013
Press Release: “Governor O’Malley’s announcement last week that Maryland is investing in a controversial manure to energy scheme is good for factory farms, but bad for the Chesapeake Bay. Manure to energy projects are no solution for managing the estimated 300,384 tons of excess poultry litter in the Bay region.
“The state, in partnership with the University System of Maryland, will enter into a power purchase agreement with Green Planet Power Solutions to purchase a minimum of 10 MW of electricity produced from animal waste in Caroline County. But converting poultry litter into energy is not a sustainable solution for the problems created by concentrating too many animals in one place. These projects, funded by government subsidies and tax credits, often create new waste streams, such as toxic air emissions that introduce harmful air pollutants into communities, and do not eliminate many pollutants of concern in animal waste such as nitrogen and phosphorous that choke the Bay.
“While the details of the Green Planet Power Solutions project are not yet publicly known, we call upon Maryland’s political leaders to stop asking citizens to bail the industrial ag interests out of their massive waste problem by financing projects that only perpetuate unsustainable farming practices.”
December 7, 2012
Press Release: A coalition of local and national public interest organizations have asked a federal court for permission to participate in a legal action that will decide when Clean Water Act restrictions apply to the release of pollutants in animal manure into local waterways used for recreation, drinking and to support nearby communities. In the lawsuit, American Farm Bureau Federation and West Virginia Farm Bureau Federation (Farm Bureau) claim that a Clean Water Act permit is not required for discharges of animal waste from a large Hardy County poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO). The organizations, including Potomac Riverkeeper, West Virginia Rivers Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, and Waterkeeper Alliance, are seeking to ensure that the Farm Bureau-backed poultry CAFO cannot sidestep Clean Water Act standards. Today’s filing asks the Court to give the public interest organizations the same right to participate already given to the Farm Bureau.
The motion to intervene in the case was prompted by the CAFO’s refusal to comply with an EPA order directing it to obtain a Clean Water Act permit for its discharges of pollutants from animal manure generated at the facility. The CAFO houses 200,000 chickens and contains ditches that direct animal waste from the operation into a tributary of the South Branch of the Potomac River which is listed by the state as “impaired” because of algal blooms and the presence of fecal bacteria. Although the CAFO is not disputing that its waste is discharged into these waters, it sued the agency claiming that the discharges to local waterways are exempt from the Clean Water Act, rather than obtaining a permit. The motion to intervene seeks confirmation that no exemption applies here.
“The issue here is about more than one CAFO polluting one waterway,” said Brent Walls, Upper Potomac River Manager for Potomac Riverkeeper. “It’s about defining a way to preserve and protect the right of everyone to have clean rivers and streams, even when they’re near industrial agriculture.”