Court Lets Perdue Off the Hook for Devastating Pollution of Chesapeake Bay by Its Contract Grower
Statement of Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch
Washington, DC – “Food & Water Watch is disappointed by the Court’s decision issued in the Perdue trial today in which the Judge declined to find Perdue liable for the significant levels of pollution coming from one of its contract poultry growing operations on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. For decades, the big poultry companies – the Perdues, Tysons, Mountaires, and others – have been ignoring the dire impacts their meat production systems have been having on the Chesapeake Bay and many more of our waterways across the country. They’ve been allowed to walk away from the mountains of manure produced by their birds while burdening overwhelmed and underpaid contract growers who don’t have the means to properly dispose of this waste. A ruling in Plaintiffs favor would have helped shift some of that waste disposal burden where it belongs, with the big companies that reap the greatest profits.
“Currently poultry production in the United States lies with a handful of major companies and their method of production is becoming increasingly unsustainable. These big integrators retain contract growers who raise the birds in crowded factory farms, or Concentrated Animal Feed Operations (CAFOs), where tens of thousands are packed into cramped, sunless houses, pumped up with antibiotics, and are then slaughtered inhumanely in large plants. The increasing concentration of more animals in less space, in the ongoing desire for greater profits, means that the Eastern Shore of Maryland ends up producing over a billion pounds of chicken manure a year. This excess manure, and the massive amounts of pollution that pour off of it, is one of the primary reasons why the Chesapeake Bay has been on a downward spiral for the past three decades.
“Although the Court did not find in Plaintiff’s favor, this three-year long case has succeeded in exposing the dominant control exerted by these companies over their contract growers and revealed many of the inadequacies of our current system of CAFO non-regulation. Because of this case, we’ve all learned considerably more about inadequate state oversight, improper Nutrient Management Plans and undue industry political influence in the state of Maryland. This case has helped spur much-needed dialogue about the role companies like Perdue play in destroying our waterways.
“Despite this setback, the fight to reform our current, unsustainable system of agriculture and bring accountability to the CAFO industry has made great strides because of this litigation. F&WW looks forward to future efforts to force changes to our food production system and make integrators more accountable.”
Contact: Seth Gladstone – sgladstone(at)fwwatch.org, 718.943.8063