Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Feathers flying at Perdue chicken-pollution trial in Md

A trial with potential implications for Maryland's poultry industry began Tuesday with a lawyer for poultry giant Perdue claiming that an environmental group was looking for a way to "get Perdue" when it sued, Jessica Gresko reports for the Associated Press.

The New York-based Waterkeeper Alliance brought the lawsuit now being heard in federal court in Baltimore. The group claims that a Maryland farm raising chickens for Perdue polluted a nearby river, violating the federal Clean Water Act. The group says Perdue, which owns the chickens and monitors their growth, should be responsible for the pollution.
But lawyers for the chicken farmers and for Perdue, which is based in Salisbury, say there's no evidence of pollution. They say the farm operates just like others and that it would be unprecedented and catastrophic to the industry if its ordinary practices are found to pollute. Perdue, meanwhile, says that even if the farm is polluting, the company shouldn't be responsible for environmental violations at its contract farm.   
During the trial's opening Tuesday, George Ritchie, an attorney for Alan and Kristin Hudson, the farmers being sued, said the Waterkeeper Alliance was looking for someone to sue "no matter what" and that the Hudsons had done nothing wrong. 
Michael Schatzow, a Perdue attorney, said the environmental group wants to end the poultry industry in Maryland and several years ago "declared war on Maryland's poultry industry."
But Jane Barrett, a law professor at the University of Maryland representing the Waterkeeper Alliance, gave her opening statement standing next to photographs of fans that ventilate the two chicken houses on the Hudson's farm in Berlin—fans she said contribute to pollution. She said the farm is responsible for pollution in a river that ultimately empties into the Chesapeake Bay. 

See the full story here.

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