Why is Perdue Acting Like a Big Chicken?
By Rich Bindell
It seems unlikely that a big food corporation with a lot of money and lobbying power would need to hide to avoid taking responsibility for its own actions. But that’s exactly what Perdue Farms is doing. They are hiding behind one of their contract growing operations, as well as behind a faux grassroots website, spreading misinformation about environmental groups trying to protect the Chesapeake Bay from pollution.
Waterkeeper Alliance filed a lawsuit in March 2010, against Perdue Farms, one of the nation’s largest producers of broiler chickens, and one of their contract growing operations—owned by Alan and Kristin Hudson— to hold them responsible for run-off from the site into farm ditches that drain into the Franklin Branch before reaching the Pocomoke River and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. While the Hudsons own the farm, the chickens they raise there are owned by Perdue and the company makes almost every decision about how they are raised. But when it comes to dealing with the manure created by those chickens, the Hudsons are on their own.
In order to “defend” the Hudson Farm, Perdue anonymously created the website Savefarmfamilies.org, to spread misinformation about the lawsuit. They depict the Hudsons as victims of aggressive environmental groups who need financial help to cover their bills from the lawsuit. While Perdue doesn’t lay claim to the website, the IP address of the proxy registration belongs to Perdue.
Food & Water Watch has our own response to the claims made by Savefarmfamilies.org. Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter drafted an open letter to Perdue CEO Jim Perdue, questioning Perdue’s current PR strategy.
“Proxy registrations are for folks who don’t want you to know who owns the site – sort of like proxy farmers are for integrators who don’t want folks to know who really owns the waste. The website portrays the Hudsons as victims of overzealous persecution by an ‘out-of-state’ environmental group, with barely a mention of Perdue. Given the amount of misinformation on the site, it’s easy to see why Perdue might want to cover up its role.”
Setting up a fake website instead of attempting to resolve a problem that threatens to destroy the Chesapeake Bay seems like strange behavior for a company that prides itself on environmental stewardship. It’s time for Perdue to own up to the waste created by its chickens and stop hiding behind its contract growers.