The U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Maryland yesterday ruled in favor of chicken growers Alan and Kristin Hudson and Perdue Farms  in a case filed against them by Waterkeeper Alliance Inc, saying the plaintiffs, did not prove their case.  Judge William M. Nickerson held that the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Assateague Coastal Trust “has failed to meet its burden of establishing that there was a discharge of pollution from the poultry operation on the Hudson Farm.”

National Chicken Council President Mike Brown released the following statement in response to the ruling:

“Governor O’Malley said it best–that this unfair attack on a family farm represented an ‘ongoing injustice.’  The National Chicken Council and many other farm, agriculture, meat and poultry groups both inside and outside of Delmarva have stood solidly together in support of the Hudson’s during this case–a case that was based on frivolous assumptions rather than facts from the beginning.

We feel like this was a lawsuit against all of us, and we are pleased that Judge Nickerson ruled that the Waterkeeper Alliance had not met the standard of preponderance of evidence in its argument.

Today’s ruling is a win for Delmarva’s family farmers and against radical environmental activists who disregard the facts, sue first and ask questions later.”

The lawsuit, filed in March 2010 by the Waterkeeper Alliance, accused in a civil suit that Berlin, Maryland, farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson and Perdue Farms, for whom the Hudsons are contract growers, violated the Clean Water Act.  The violation was based on a pile of material on the property that was erroneously assumed to be chicken manure, but was instead municipal sewage sludge from Ocean City, Maryland, that was used to fertilize crops.  The Maryland Department of the Environment inspected the farm, confirmed the pile was biosolids, asked the Hudsons to move the pile, and the Hudsons complied.

Lawyers for the Waterkeeper’s Alliance then argued manure leaving the poultry houses from ventilation fans and foot traffic polluted a ditch along the farm which leads to the Pocomoke River.

“We are thrilled with today’s ruling, which clearly is a resounding victory for Perdue and farm families everywhere,” said Julie DeYoung, Perdue’s spokesperson.  “We congratulate the Hudsons on their long-overdue exoneration.  We are also pleased that the judge upheld existing law that safeguards the contractor relationship and confirmed the independence of thousands of family farms who choose to raise poultry and livestock.  This is a good day for Maryland and for agriculture,” she said.

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