Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

Up until now I’ve refrained from commenting about a monumental lawsuit which has been brewing in my neck of the woods, the Delmarva Peninsula.  I’ve done so because I knew that despite public persona there would come a time when the little guy in the case would be offered up as the sacrificial lamb.

The lawsuit filed by attorneys for the Waterkeepers Alliance (plaintiffs) against co-defendants Perdue and Alan and Kristin Hudson (defendants) claims discharge of pollutants from the Hudson’s farm in violation of the Clean Water Act and that Perdue has legal responsibility for it.

Locally known as the “Hudson Lawsuit” the case has a lot of history and has turned neighbor against neighbor.  At the crux of the issue is that the Hudson’s raise chickens under contract for Perdue and do so accordingly to dictates by the company.  Since the farmer doesn’t own the chickens or the feed they eat its questionable as to who owns the manure (chicken poop).

In the beginning, claims by the Hudson’s and Perdue were that photographs of mountains of manure stored on the Hudson farm were piles of bio-solids (waste) from Ocean City, MD not chicken poop.  Regardless of what was in the photographs, at issue is that the farm, that houses Perdue’s chickens, is a point source of discharge of nitrogen, phosphorous, and ammonia as well as bacteria (fecal coliform and E Coli) which the Waterkeeper Alliance sampled at high levels downstream from the farm and also citing on-site and leaving the farm sampling conducted by the Maryland Department of Environment (MDE).  Plaintiffs say this “confirms the poultry house pollutants are reaching the facility’s drainage ditches.”

The drainage ditches on the farm drain into Franklin Branch a tributary of the Pocomoke River which drains into the Chesapeake Bay.  Nitrogen and phosphorous have been long standing culprits in the killing of the Chesapeake Bay and efforts to clean up the Bay and revive it to its natural state have failed miserably over the years at the cost of millions to taxpayers.

We have a volatile mixture of people involved and interested in the outcome of the lawsuit and this is where the story gets really good.  Earlier motions filed by Perdue attempted to have the company dismissed as a defendant in the case which was denied.  This puts Big Chicken into hot water because if found guilty a precedent will be set for the country where corporate ag is responsible for the manure their animals produce.  I say “their animals” because legally they own the chickens, not the farmer.

Backing up Big Chicken are the usual attendees such as the Delmarva Poultry Industry INC. (DPI) the local industry trade union, allied industries and Farm Bureau.

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.

Just recently Maryland’s Governor, Martin O’Malley, stepped outside the bounds of legal decorum weighing in on the case and in a letter asked attorney’s for the plaintiffs to drop the case.

If anyone is confused by now don’t feel bad, you’re not alone.  I specifically recall asking the question in 1995 – who owns the manure.  In all of the initiatives set out toward cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, no one, including our illustrious politicians, has answered that question in 16 years.  It’s come down to a lawsuit to determine the answer.

On November 17, 2011, court filings in U.S. District Court have asked for “summary judgment” in the case scheduled for a 3 week trial March 5, 2011.  Both sides presented arguments why the case should be resolved in their favor immediately.

This is where the story confirms my belief that the little guy (the farmer) would be thrown to the wolves.  Throughout the past couple of years Perdue and the camp followers have publically supported the Hudson’s, holding fund raisers for their legal defense fund and publishing a website in defense of the Hudson’s. Court documents recently filed cite internal Perdue email’s  – the Hudson Farm “is one of its 10 worst on the Eastern Shore of Maryland”.  This was based on an informal survey of Perdue farm managers.  I can only imagine what the farmer must think after staunchly defending Perdue.

Furthermore, 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.”

Could this be a case of “he who speaks with forked tongue”?  This is a perfect example of talking out of both sides of the mouth depending on who the target audience is at the moment.

I have to step up on my soap box…….  Big Chicken adamantly claims that they want to save farm families and then turn around and submit legal arguments to the contrary.  It reminds of little kids who get into trouble over something and they all claim “I didn’t do it” all the while coming up with some of the most ridiculous arguments as to why they shouldn’t be blamed and putting the blame off on another! PROPAGANDA – ized indeed!

Somewhere within the tangled web weaved practiced to deceive responsibility for pollution of the Chesapeake Bay from industry chicken poop will be decided.

I’ve spent countless hours reading over court documents.  Evasiveness and playing just plain dumb is the theme.  I especially loved reading some of the Perdue internal emails.  It’s quite obvious how the company big shots go about business.  One asks about farms that don’t have “curb appeal” meaning farms which don’t present a pretty picture.  Guess esthetically pleasing is now part of grower performance and whether the farmer has a contract to raise chickens for the company!

It’s my bet that the Hudson’s will not continue to contract with Perdue and more than likely any other chicken company on the Delmarva Peninsula.  It’s easy to sacrifice the little guy!

Relevant legal documents and court pleadings

Maryland Governor O’Malley Letter

Comments on: "Thrown to the Wolves!" (41)

  1. lone wolf’s are easy prey…I feel for these folks…..and I thought if you didn’t follow their advice that was breach of contract…so now all of a sudden it has become a defense mechanism. “Curb Appeal”..you have just given my next topic…thank you..

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  2. Predatory companies like Perdue and others operating on the Delmarva Peninsula are using their market power to force poultry farmers to accept non market prices. They pretend family farmers are independent contractors so that they don’t have to pay their part of taxes but break all the rules of being able to claim them as “independent”.

    These environmental issues are a part of a larger characteristic of predatory companies. The companies have so much power that they are able to externalize costs onto others and in this case it is manure in the environment just as they have been able to externalize other costs onto the family farmer.

    Much of this can be blamed on federal judges who will not do their part in enforcing the laws of the land. Instead, they make up excuses for the politically powerful meat industry in its predatory activities.

    We should get to a point in our thinking that it isn’t going to be the meatpackers who need to be cleaned up but the people who support them in defrauding family farmers and the environment. Without this support mechanism, their costs and frauds would find monetary remedies in court and their actions would not be economically viable.

    Until we see the larger problem, we will have to continue to deal with predatory companies like Perdue and the other giant meat packers throwing their costs onto society. It is what gives them competitive advantage and allows them to capture markets— by throwing their costs of production onto others through fraud. It is a direct subsidy of the richest, greediest, and most unethical businessmen because our government is easier paid off than governing properly. It is the principals of the world over the principles of a just society.

    Tom

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  3. Bobbi Jo said:

    After reviewing some of the court proceedings, I can see where Perdue is trying to absolve themselves of any responsibility of manure and control of the contract grower. As a former grower they had asolute control of our growing operation giving us instructions on a daily basis. If we did not adhere to their instructions they would say this is your last flock until changes are made.The contract stated that Perdue holds title to the flock of birds. I never seen this so called “Title” change hands when the bird dies or when we have to dispose of the poop! The money we spent disposing of the dead chickens and manure over the years set us back quite a bit. It was always we need more equipment, sheds, pads etc. Perdue should have also shouldered some of the responsiblity “dollar wise” per grower in disposing of the companies waste. This is not a taxpayer problem this is corporate responsibility for livestock owned. Maybe this suit will truly declare who owns the poop and dead birds, and set the grower free from such a contract of adhesion.

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  4. Malakye said:

    I also checked out the court documents. Growers are no more “Independent Contractors” than any other factory worker. The only exception is that they also have to purchase all their own equipment and housing to the companies specs and are told what to do, with no benefits. (Saves the companies $$$) The companies want this control so they can have an endless supply of cheap protein to feed the world. If the growers were paid a decent salary they might not put birds in when the company dictates, and then the companies couldn’t control the placement of birds. As we all know the birds are sold before they are placed on the farm. This would mess up their whole system of vertical integration. Now with this composting of manure in the house flock after flock. The heavy metals also compound using this system. So, when the manure is spread onto fields a higher level of these metals will be present. Let’s not forget the “chicken” living in this compounded environment. No livestock should be raised in this manner. Give them fresh air, sunlight, chemical free feed and let them roam on a pasture to eat some grass. This is the way nature intended it to be.

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  5. Carole, Thank you for keeping us up to date on industry happenings in your area. This suit possibly might change the grower/integrator contractual relationship for the better. It’s about time a suit of this nature has been imposed upon an integrator for taking responsibility for it’s waste. For too many decades they pushed dead bird and manure disposal and costs onto growers and taxpayers. This suit also might change the so called “Independent Contractor” clause in the contract. We all know of the control these multi-billion dollar companies have over their growers. It’ amazing to us that when reviewing some of the service persons depositons that they didn’t know the setttlement procedure for the company they work for. Some of these employees were awarded service person of the year? When it was time to testify they all had what we call in my neck of the woods a Perdue induced “Brain Fart”.

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    • If you check the how the IRS defines “independent contractor” we do not qualify. The only argument would be the investment but I know plenty of companies that require mechanics to have their own tools (which are a significant investment) and they are still employees of the garage…a jury would agree in 5 minutes but try telling that to an appeals court judge though…maybe times are a changing (I hope)

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  6. What an amazing resource of information. We reviewed some of the statements on the court papers and couldn’t believe some of the answers. When we were raising chickens our flock roadman always explained the settlement procedure and costs with raising birds. Quite few times we didn’t agree what was on the settlement sheets but we had no recourse to change anything or verify the company inputs, we always had to take their word. My husband always said we were not “Independent Contractors”. He always compared it to farming saying “if I had an old tractor that still can pull the planter in the field why should I upgrade to a new tractor and have all the payments?” He was comparing that to the constant demands the company made of us for upgrading the poultry houses. We never saw any more money for doing this just more bills and a miserable lifestyle. We our very glad we are not raising chickens anymore, we got tired of picking all the dead ones. My husband injured himself one year when the company birds had water belly problems he toted so many birds out of the houses he broke his wrist. That was a tough time for us because we didn’t make any money on that flock and all the medical bills. We sure hope things will change in this business, especially for the younger generation, they shouldn’t have to live this way. It’s sad the younger people that get pulled into this business with so much debt and they are just starting their lives. Just like us they will never see the light at the end of the tunnel it will always be the company saying “put this in or do this” or no chickens.

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  7. As a taxpayer or outsider, I believe it is ridiculous for us to subsidize multi-billion dollar poultry companies and the farmers that work for them to dispose of their manure problem. We should not be subsidizing waste storage sheds, pads etc. These programs have been around for awile and the Bay is till being degraded by manure. We have enough other social programs which need funding. Not major corporations which turn a profit and brag how much they do for the community. It’s time we end this Corporate Welfare and let these multi-billion dollar poultry companies pay for their own sheds and manure disposal.

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    • Guest said:

      As with Fred I am an outsider also but I would like to add that not only are the taxpayers subsidizing the growers but also a large number of the employees that work in the processing facilities. Their low pay guarentees that they are eligible for Medicaid, housing assistance, food stamps, free school lunches for children.

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    • I am still under contract and I could not agree with you more. If it is sheds, pads whatever that are needed the contract ought to pay enough to directly purchase what is necessary. You can rest easy with me my brother, never taken a dime of FSA money and never will..it is in fact glorified welfare when if anything it should be spurring innovation and alternative farming methods and alternative uses for manure. Crony capitalism at its finest. These companies capture all the value of what ever the farmer gets through these “programs” and get the lion’s share benefits from these ridiculous prgrams without ever receiving a check.

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  8. Tammy said:

    My heart goes out to the young couple involved in this suit. Since the company (Perdue) that they work for is calling them one of their worst growers. It seems as though they are getting hit from all sides. Now the company is saying the cows did it! It couldn’t be company chickens. I wouldn’t be surprised if the company terminates their contract for any reason. This suit has really stirred up a hornets nest in the Ag community and pitted neighbor against neighbor. But the corporations have several goals, no responsibility for the manure and dead birds, and also they want to keep control of the grower as an independent contractor. I hope this young couple will look at all scenarios and possibly open up dialogue with the Waterkeepers.

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  9. I am no outsider to this situation. I was an “independent contractor” when I started in the business but the poultry companies soon made sure that I was no longer independent nor a contractor for them. They bought the federal judge in my case and then the appellate court threw it to the politicians who were paid off to change the new “GIPSA rules” which would have given family farmers a fighting chance. As it is there are no farmers who can stay in the fight when it is rigged against them.

    I sympathize with the Hudsons as they are caught in the middle with no way out just as I was.

    The reason the 1% keep getting richer is that they are able to buy the rules of the game. I don’t see much difference between the two parties when it comes to these issues. Either party will sell you out in the backrooms of power the nation has trusted them with. We need a real change and we need real consequences for those who would change the rules for the rich to continue to harvest the bounty the Good Lord has given this nation.

    Tom

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  10. I am also an outsider, but a taxpayer. As long as we let these mega corps keep running things we will always be held hostage by them. They have their coffers lined with cash where they exploited their employees, farmers and environment to make them what they are today. How much more will they take from us until they become full? Will every river, ditch, field have to be polluted before they say enough? Or will it be we have a fix for that lets just dump this chemical XYZ in there and that will take care of the problem. Maybe it’s time went send these poultry companies a clear message if you continue to foul the resources in our area (people,environment) then we do not want you here.

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    • Anonymous said:

      Good point Faye. We just hope when the companies leave they take their manure with them! And also we might see a reduction in illegal aliens.

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  11. Steve said:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the court records. Looks like Perdue keeps “Gestapo” type information on their growers. Rating growers on curb appeal? How ridiculous, what’s next? Do they have a nice smile? Perdue should be more concerned with on how to clean up the environment they polluted. Another area of concern would be proper training for their so called poultry supervisors. They do not know the settlement procedure or couldn’t remember at that time. And these same people received awards and bonuses? Maybe that’s why we keep subsidizing these poultry monopolies “Good Help Is Hard To Find”

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  12. JugHead said:

    I suppose the price of chicken is going to go up due to this lawsuit. Perdue has to find a way to pay for it besides dipping into their reserves. The growers won’t see anymore money just less and Perdue will say the price of corn is still high and let’s not forget about the fuel prices. Meanwhile the price of chicken rises. Wait till the lawsuits settled and Perdue is responsible for their manure. They most likely will threaten to move and say the state of Md is not friendly to the poultry industry. No problem Bye Bye! we do not need this type of exploitative business on the shore.

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    • JugHead, the price of chicken would need to go 2 to 3 cents per lb. to allow the farmer the resources to deal with manure and other issues. That could easily come out of the profit margin of these companies or the retailer with no new cost to the consumer.

      It is such a low price to pay for decency in our food chain but too much for these greedy rich corporations to pay.

      Tom

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  13. Wow, I just started reading through some of the documents and paragraph 41 of the complaint says “The contracts establishing the growing arrangements between Perdue and its poultry growers, including Hudson Farm, are presented to the poultry growers with no opportunity to negotiate their essential terms.” and in Perdue’s answer to the complaint they had the balls to deny the allegations of paragraph 41 of the complaint.

    Anybody who has ever signed a poultry contract KNOWS that is a lie, those contracts are NEVER negotiated, they are take it or leave it.

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  14. Boomer said:

    This lawsuit stinks! Everyone is paying for the chicken poop except the company and all the while they keep increasing production and the poop continues to build up on the shore. They try to make it fancy by calling it “litter” when in fact it’s chicken shit poisioning our land and water.

    Why shouldn’t chicken companies be responsible for the poop that their chickens produce? Why is everyone else paying for it?

    This is all about greed of a company that is already rich and yet it still wants more. I feel sorry for the farmer mixed up in all of this because he will end up getting the shitty end of the stick.

    The industry brags about what they are doing for all of us on the shore as if they are some kind of benefactor and we should be thankful. Around here everyone is afriad to say anything about the chicken industry because they are so powerful and can ruin anyone who says anything. I’m glad that Waterkeepers is suing Perdue. They have taken a stand that no one dares take. It’s about time.

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  15. Carole, Thanks for providing this information to us. The comments on this site are great, it gives an overall opinion of growers and taxpayers on this situation. It’s very sad the Hudson’s are stuck in the middle of this suit. Especially with Perdue calling them one of their worst growers. After reading the transcripts it’s hard to believe that people will change their stories to protect the company. As a taxpayer we have financed this type of so called free enterprise. No, we have financed or subsidized the very thing are fore fathers discouraged. The poultry industry is under a microscope at the moment, they are getting nervous an apt to make an error. Maybe all of us working together we can repair a business which went fowl.

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  16. Violette said:

    I’ve read over some of the court documents. It appears to me (though admittedly alot of what I read confused me) the Waterkeepers are asking that Perdue as the integrator, be required to be named as co-permitees with respect to waste management, thereby ensuring that they share some of the burden and liability of the waste, which is currently the sole responsiblity of the growers?

    CM has asked the question-Who owns the manure? Wouldn’t the logical answer be whomever owns the animal? Perdue’s own contract stipulates that they own the chickens but then goes on to shift “the problem” on to the growers.

    Facts presented in the documents so far could lead one in several directions. I’m inclined to believe the Hudson’s had become overwhelmed both physically and financially long before this lawsuit thus leading to them being listed as a bad grower by Perdue. Which begs another question of why the environmental issues assocated with all of this are only recommendations and upgrades are requirements of the company? The one and only answer is- Upgrades = More Production = Higher Profits

    In the feeble attempt to atleast give the appearance of being concerned about the environment Perdue does employ something akin to a “specialist” in this area. What exactly does this person do? They must be really busy since they can’t even be bothered to make sure fans are getting hosed off as recommended by Perdue. I’m guessing they’ve been very busy working on that solar panel field that’s been erected on Rt 50 west just before Rt 13 N bypass Salisbury. Anyone local to the Delmarva area knows where I mean. Used to always be alot of geese in that field.
    Oh, now I get it. Bet those pesky old geese with their droppings were polluting the pond in the field so they put up the panels to run the geese out-Perdue hates geese, afterall the geese may have started all this trouble with the Hudson Farm. Or maybe it was the cows…..

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  17. Violette, the meat packers want to own the chickens to make a legal loophole for themselves. They can then call the farmers “independent contractors” and but still allows companies to treat them worse than employees because their homes and farms are on the line. If the meat packers own the chickens, then they can get out of the protections the Packers and Stockyards Act (no protection from the anti trust laws either) provides family farmers (which has been gutted by several federal courts). They also don’t have to pay employment taxes their half of SS taxes. It makes a mockery out of the legal reasoning in the federal courts.

    Another corporate ploy has been for these companies and their arms to start calling themselves co-ops. It allows judges who are willing to abuse the language of the law for the 1% yet again.

    It is all a big scam by politicians and federal judges to make sure the wealthy crooks in our economy are never held responsible for the way they obtained their value. They get to continually skim off the top, just as Wall Street did, without any of the accountability and in fact, by pushing costs onto family farmers and society. It gives them a competitive advantage in the market place and keeps them in control of the industry.

    You are right about one thing: These companies are afraid of jury trials. Juries usually end up siding with the abused but in the case of the meats industry, they get over turned on appeal with the flimsiest of excuses. The cattle manipulation case that was won by ranchers was overturned because the meat packers had “legitimate business reasons” to not follow the economic laws of the land. Thus, a 1.45 billion dollar jury verdict was overturned on appeal AND the rancher’s were ordered to pay the court costs of the meat packers. This happened in my case too.

    Tom

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  18. Anonymous said:

    Let’s get real and stop blaming the poultry grower who is barely scraping bye. The real villain is the grain farmers who are against any real set banks and conservation. They buy the manure and spread it, the poultry farmer is getting the shaft and the blame.

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    • James said:

      Quite a few large grain farmers also run factory chicken operations. It’s suppose to reduce their fertilizers costs and give them supplemental income. But we also subsidize the transport of manure for them.

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    • Anonymous, you are right that the majority of poultry farmers are barely scraping by. If they were not pushed into such one sided and low paying contracts, they would have the resources to deal with the manure issues including too much being produced in certain areas. The fact is that these companies take so much of the value out of our food production chain that family farmers are put in the squeeze and are not able to take care of things like too much manure in a given geographic area. It shows up in the health of the waterways and bays when this manure is not shipped out to other areas that need manure fertilizer.

      I think Food and Water Watch are doing the right thing by tying the corporation that is skimming the profits out of the industry and not going after just the family farmer. The family farmers have no power to make sure they are paid enough to handle these problems because federal judges are exempting these corporations from following the economic principles in the law. The meat packing industry has used their profits to buy off politicians at an alarming rate. They can put federal judges in any place they want in the country to get any law already on the books undermined.

      This only allows corporations to walk off with extraordinary profits while they leave the costs of production and pollution on their growers and the communities they operate in.

      Tom

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      • James said:

        Tom, what is your definition of a family farmer? Did you realize back in the 80’s Tyson and Perdue considered themselves family farmers and saved billions in taxes. Just my two cents worth.

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      • Not sure anymore but in the 90s they still ran under the guise of “farms”…

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  19. Violette said:

    Tom, by anti trust do you mean the monopoly that’s been created by the companies? I can remember back in the early 90’s speaking with an elderly chicken grower who was selling his farm (incidently his name was Hudson also.) It stands out vividly in my mind because it was the first time I had ever heard the phrases “snake oil salesmen” and an “iron fist in a velvet glove.” He had seen the local industry shrink from 30 or 40 companies to just 3 or 4 dominating the area. Back then I wasn’t really understanding what he was talking about but now it’s become clear to me.
    Also Anon 2:20, I’m not sure there is even a market for manure here on MD’s eastern shore. CM would know more about this but someone just told me the other night that they give it away.

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    • Yes, Violette, I am talking about anti-monopoly type laws. In the legal world they are called anti-trust because in the years prior to the Great Depression all the big money was buying up all of the little companies and putting them under “trusts” where they could control all the companies in an industry.

      We are experiencing the same thing today. The too big to fail Wall Street big money is doing the same thing in the banking and financial services industries. The banking industry had a separation between the investment banks and commercial banks. Any time there is a financial crisis, our financial system has to cover bank depositors like you and me who have money in the bank or we would all take it out at once and the banks would collapse. When the politicians repealed the Glass Steagal Act, which separated the investment banks from the commercial banks, they essentially let Wall Street investment banks use banks who had depositors like you and I to skim profits off of the top. It brought down the banking industry. It too was a law meant to stop big money from gaming the economy for themselves. Our politicians are still allowing that structure to exist.

      These politicians are running our country and economy into the ground. The meats industry is but one of many where politicians are selling the rules and laws to those who control the industries. It concentrates the wealth of the nation into the hands of the few and reduces opportunities for everyone else.

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    • Most growers “give” the manure away and are glad to have someone take it. Manure is considered an asset by industry so that the figures on a poultry operation cash flow when in fact here on the Delmarva Peninsula manure is a liability. I’ve always wondered about that saying – truth in lending.

      I don’t understand why manure can’t be shipped out to the midwest on the railroad cars that bring all of the grain to Delmarva to feed chickens. I’ve spoken to large grain farmers in the midwest and they say they could use the manure. I guess something as simple as that would infringe on chemical monopolies who the midwest grain farmers have to use.

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      • Violette said:

        The fellow that I talked to said he gave it away to a crop farmer…BUT that farmer didn’t want it until quite a bit had been accumulated. I got the impression that storage is a problem not only for the grower but also for the crop farmers. It appears alot of poultry growers here on Delmarva are experiencing this problem and have been for quite a few years. Here’s a link from the NY Times Nov 2008.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/us/29poultry.html?_r=1&sq=maryland poultry&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=1&adxnnlx=1228320200-iTvhARZ/A6paBL8fN5Q8TQ

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      • Thanks for the link. An article worth reading! My concern is in the pictures which show Mr. Richardson standing on the outside of a manure storage structure and it’s obvious that the shed is so full that the manure is spilling out onto the ground. Not very good curb appeal!

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  20. Oh, and yes, poultry manure is still a valuable fertilizer (hopefully- if they will stop putting arsenic in it). It could be taken on trains to areas that don’t have the nutrient load.

    Think of it this way, all the corn and soybeans are being fed to chickens comes from the farms all over the country. The chickens process those grains and then out comes the poop, which would be good fertilizer if used properly. The problem is that so much feed is being shipped into a relatively small geographic area, the Delmarva Peninsula, and there isn’t enough farm land to put all the manure on it without it being washed into the estuaries. Some of that manure needs to be shipped back where they need the fertilizer and probably don’t have the big poultry industry. That shipping and system set up does cost money. These farmers are being pooped on and not paid to clean up the mess.

    Tom

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  21. If it was just nitrogen you dealt with the poultry manure it would be much more easily managed. The stuff that is added..the high phosphorus is to build the skeletal system so their legs can (barely) support their growth rate. Arsenic..surely not good and then there are the heavy metals. You get metal toxicity in your land and its over.

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    • You are right about that, wcafarms. Arsenic is one of the heavy metals. There is no telling what else they put in the feed to get these chickens to grow the way they do. Arsenic is one we know about.

      The poultry companies could pay a little more and buy a feed additive that would use the phosphorus in the grains (it is tightly bound) but it is cheaper to shovel in extra phosphorus instead of worrying about the environmental impacts of their feeding program.

      It is all about making that fraction of a cent per lb. more.

      Tom

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      • James said:

        The poultry industry here has been using “Phytase” for years to bind the phosphorous. But….that eventually breaks down and you still have the high concentrations of copper, selenium, beetle juice and what ever else they run in the feed or water “medications”. As far as transporting the manure this would be a “bio-security” risk unless all the manure was analyzed to be free of possibly disease organisms. The holding area or depot for this manure would take up a tremendous covered area, with trucks running 24,7 just to deposit the manure before the train ride west. Once again with all the traffic “bio-security” would be a great risk. How much more fossil fuel will have to be burned just to move “their” manure to areas which can utilize it? This does not seem as a very green or cost effective approach to dispose of manure.
        A possible alternative would be to install zoning laws per county. If county X has X amount of acres only X amount of poultry houses can be in production. Added also the feed must be cleaned up and made environmental friendly. We would still need management plans and soil,manure testing.

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    • Zinc also…I remember getting a soil sample back and the comment was “these samples reflect the application of waste material..native copper and zinc levels are not near this level”…it was no where near their threshold but I went to a 4 year rotation and I sell the rest (well not really sell it..I just charge for cleaning the house) to 4 farmers who are on the same rotation. Corn and coastal bermuda is all I will use it for…are there any other heavy feeders ya’ll know of..
      Another little detail they left out in the sales pitch…the little extras that could be detrimental to your farm…

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  22. As a farmer and former contract grower, disposing/spreading of the manure has always been a tremedous hassle for us. We always ended up giving a large majority of it away. Some of our fields became highly enriched with phosphorous and we couldn’t spread manure on those fields. We spent alot of money on cleanout costs, equipment,fuel,sheds,pads etc. Just to move the manure to fields where we could spread it. Always worrying about if some poop fell off the trucks or spreaders. It would be great if the companies could clean up their ingredients of the feed and not use chemicals in the chicken house. This would make the manure much more stable and safe to apply. We always looked at the manure as the companies waste but we were always stuck with it. Looks like things might change in regards to this. We sure hope so, it’s time they share the burden which has always plagued the contract grower.

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  23. Violette said:

    The irony of this is that MD’s governor O’Malley wants to limit septic systems on the Eastern Shore but then turns around (and unashamed and without a hint of embarrassment even!) is siding with Perdue, when it’s not only obvious but proven that too much manure produced in such a small area is a major source of waterway pollutants.

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    • that is the problem..the concentration in such a small area..I know farmers right now who used to use it and are getting samples recommending “no mas”..

      Like

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