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Who Loses In Factory Farming?


A friend posted a link to the below blog entry below.

Thrown To The Wolves

 The writer does a great job describing how factory farming works at the local level — in this case, Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

In Maryland, the name of the game is chicken. Perdue is king, and anyone who grew up in Maryland in the 70s and 80s remembers the ubiquitous Frank Perdue commercials:

Vintage Perdue Ad

Big agri-companies like Perdue own the feed and the chickens, and local farmers end up with all the risk. And when the impact from concentrated chicken poop starts to get noticed, they get thrown under the bus.

In this particular case, a lawsuit has been filed by environmentalists who have documented the pollution in the Chesapeake and have pointed out one very likely cause — chicken crap from a farm run by a family named the Hudson’s.

Despite photos of tall heaping mounds of what is purported to be chicken feces, Perdue has argued that what is depicted are “bio-solids” from Ocean City, MD that the Hudsons were storing on the farm.

The suit has divided neighbors:

Farmers have been propaganda-ized to the point of fearing for their livelihoods and believe that the environmentalists want to put them out of business.

The environmentalists, taxpayers, and the local public have become the nemesis of the farming community and are accused of not getting how it all works. Outsider’s is what they’ve been labeled.

As the suit moves forward, Perdue has of course taken steps to cordon themselves off from liability:

…in an effort to absolve the company from blame, Perdue legal arguments suggests ways that the judge could find the Hudson’s to be at fault for polluting – it was the Hudson’s cows that are the source of any pollutants. I have to laugh because we have now moved from waste from Ocean City to waste from the cows. In one deposition a suggestion is introduced that it was the wild geese. Oh no folks, it can’t be from the chickens.

Perdue arguments also contend that Mr. Hudson “did not always follow Perdue’s advice”… and “Mr. Hudson has not adopted various ‘best management practices,’ (such as hosing down the vents in a chicken house) recommended by Perdue.”

So the local farmer gets sacrificed. Which is the reason big agriculture sets up these relationships to begin with.

How better to insulate the company from liability than having the local farm assume all the risk and have to manage all the waste.

It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this lawsuit will be.



December 2, 2011 Posted by | Agriculture, Environment | Leave a comment