Rarely does a month go by without a head-scratching announcement of some activist group or another “fighting to protect the environment” by attacking somebody involved in agriculture.
They always play to the public’s naiveté, and they always want your money to support their misguided mission.
Now, here’s a chance to put your money behind a decidedly different mission: Help save a small family farmer-producer from being bankrupted by one of the more notorious activist groups around.
Here’s the story.
The Waterkeeper Alliance, a New York City-based group who claims its goal is “to protect every major watershed around the world through grassroots advocacy,” is suing Maryland farmers Alan and Kristin Hudson for (allegedly) violating the Maryland Clean Water Act.
At the heart of this suit, according to SaveFarmFamilies.org, a group formed by the Wicomico County (Maryland) Young Farmers and Ranchers, the Maryland Farm Bureau and Perdue Farms to raise funds for the Hudsons’ legal defense, is a pile of fertilizer on the family’s 20-acre Berlin, Md., farm. It was believed by the Waterkeepers to be untreated poultry litter, which they identified from a small plane they flew over the Hudson’s property.
However, the pile was actually biosolids, which the Hudsons obtained from nearby Ocean City, Md., as part of a program run by the Maryland Department of the Environment to recycle municipal waste for agricultural purposes. MDE determined that no action was required, other than to spread the biosolids on the farm’s cropland.
However, the Waterkeepers have persisted with their suit, which labels the Hudsons’ operation a “factory farm,” despite the fact that they have only two chicken growout houses and are farming property that’s been in the family for four generations. The legal costs could force the Hudsons into bankruptcy before arguments are heard in court sometime next year.
“If this extremist group succeeds in forcing the Hudson family to settle or declare bankruptcy before arguments are even heard in court, they’ll do it to other family farmers here and across the country,” said Lee Richardson, a member of the Wicomico County Young Farmers and Ranchers, “just because we don’t conform to the Waterkeepers’ misguided image of how animals should be raised.”
Maryland happens to have a robust farming industry that is responsible for 14% of the state’s workforce, the largest percentage of any single sector, according to the Maryland Farm Bureau. Many local farmers are worried that if this lawsuit succeeds, it would open up the flood gate for more litigation.