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Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

As Predicted Chicken Expansion on Delmarva Proves Disastrous

Over the past couple of years, the chicken industry has attracted many new immigrants into the Delmarva Peninsula and encouraged the building of chicken warehouses on mega sized zero land operations.  Monetary “incentive bonuses” offered by companies to those caught up in the building frenzy are an added inducement.  The zero land operations are chicken warehouses, built from property line to property line, leaving no land unused to spread the exorbitant amount of waste that’s produced by theses facilities.

The industry expansion is so huge that state cost share programs are broke.  The cost share programs, funded by taxpayers, were supposed to clean up the industrial waste left behind by the industry and that is polluting the waters of the Chesapeake.  The programs were never designed to support manure disposal from the large expansion that has been allowed to occur thusly utilizing all of the funds long before all of the mega operations can tap into them.  It has gotten so bad that the Maryland Department of Environment is bypassing regulations and allowing the mega structures to be built without the normally required manure disposal plans as well as the dead chicken disposal requirements.  There are no taxpayer dollars left to fund adherence of the regulations before the chicken warehouses can be built.

The warehouses, one building being as large as 43,500 square feet in size housing as many as 49,500 chickens each flock, are not the norm that we are used to seeing on the peninsula.  Some of the operations contain up to 50 of these warehouses.  These are not farms they are part of the mass production assembly line in order to, as the industry claims, feed the world.  Unfortunately, the world only takes care of the end product, the highly processed cheap chicken meat, leaving all of the waste behind for good old American taxpayers to foot the bill for cleanup.  Not only do we fund the waste cleanup, we also fund the process of dead chicken disposal.

Powers that be in counties on the peninsula have wholeheartedly welcomed the expansion in spite of loud objections voiced by residents.  No consideration has been given to environmental and public health, and water and land, issues raised or to the plain ordinary fact that every U.S. citizen has the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

There are not very many happy citizens who have had these warehouses dropped into their communities denying them the right to simple enjoyment of their property.  Many cannot go outside of their homes without suffering the stench, ammonia emissions, dust, flies, and many other offensive and unhealthy by-products produced from these mega operations.

Recently it was brought to my attention that the long-time contract chicken farmers in our communities are starting to feel the heat from the industry expansion.  Demands of upgrades to existing chicken housing or building of new warehouses is the first step to driving these farmers out of business.  It’s standard operating procedure by industry to accommodate the new mega operations that are now online and quite frankly the long-time farms that have supported the industry for many years are no longer needed.  Get big or get out is the usual message.

Huge investments, including putting the entire homestead on the line, were made by the long-time farmers.  Many of them have been on the land for generations.  Existing contract chicken farmers will either have to go back to their local lending institution for funds that will increase existing mortgages enabling them to adhere to industry demands or they can opt out of the demands and lose the contract, and in turn lose the farm.  There is no recourse for promises made in the past by industry.  Not much of a choice for those who’ve already invested millions, if not billions, in the industry.  Not a very nice thank you for supporting the companies!

People in wealthy communities that have seen proposed plans for a next-door neighbor mega chicken operation stopped it in its tracks by offering a higher price for the land to be sold.  Ironically a neighbor in that same community is none other than the long-time leader of the Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. (DPI), a local industry trade union.  I personally have seen and heard this very same fearless leader expound on the virtues of the industry expansion, convincing the powers that be to ignore the citizens objections.

What I don’t understand is why this person didn’t want a mega chicken warehouse community next door.  Especially since part of the expounding referred to a “good neighbor policy” written by the trade union. Humorously, or maybe not, the DPI “Good Neighbor Policy” is a waste of good paper.  It’s not enforceable.  The trade union has no business or influence in contracts made between chicken companies and independent contract farmers.  Unfortunately, our illustrious officials believed that the useless policy solved any concerns and was somehow an insurance of community happiness.

It remains to be seen where the disastrous consequences from the industry expansion will end.  Much ado has been made by the powers that be about dollars and cents generated.  Recently I heard one of our illustrious local congressional members say it all supports a “healthy business climate in Maryland”.  No mention was made about supporting the existing business climate or supporting public and environmental health for our communities.  I think that these types of comments pretty well sum up the fact that chickens and dollars are much more important than people.

I’ve Been Chastised!  Critics Want Answers

My post from yesterday  Jihadists, Beheadings? In Maryland?  alluded to the tightly woven web within the State of Maryland and the chicken industry on the Delmarva Peninsula.  I’m not just picking on Maryland.  The Peninsula or the Eastern Shore, as it’s often called, also encompasses parts of Delaware and Virginia.

I’ve been chastised and reminded that it’s not just Maryland.  For that matter I could go further and say that, in my humble experiences, I’ve seen the very same things across the country in any place the poultry industry sets up shop.

For all of you unidentified and not so friendly people out there that I’ve heard from —

Yes, I admit, I do, enthusiastically, support the Poultry Litter Management Act (PLM) introduced in Maryland’s House and Senate (SB 496) (HB 599).  I also encourage everyone to read the PLM Fact Sheet to clear up all of the misconceptions and downright untruths floating around.  Being informed and making up your own mind is the best gift you could give yourself, and it’s free.

There are several reasons why I’m in favor of the PLM.

Firstly and most importantly, the Chesapeake Bay belongs to all of us. It’s a National Treasure.  There isn’t any single one of us who has the right to continue to destroy it and, yes, this is a pet peeve of mine.  All of the efforts to clean up the Bay are not working as every year we see more or expanding “dead zones” appear.  Major culprits who are degrading the Bay have not owned up and said “I’m going to accept my responsibility, because I care”.

The chicken companies who operate on the Delmarva Peninsula have been in denial since the very first day that disastrous consequences struck.  I can go all the way back to the mid 1990’s when the Eastern Shore had a horrific outbreak of Pfiesteria piscicida.  Massive fish kills and human illnesses abounded.  Nutrient overload mixed with the right weather conditions was identified.  Upon further investigation runoff from chicken manure became part of the mix. The poultry industry immediately started pointing fingers, mostly at farmers.  I might add that this was my environmental awakening as a contract farmer, and realizing that we had serious problems, in in more ways than one.

Coupled with blaming farmers, local watermen who make their living from the bounty of the Bay were the ones being most affected.  Denial of responsibility by chicken companies pointing the finger at farmers and watermen affected, who by the way are neighbors to the farmers, set the stage for a wedge being driven into the community.  Sides were drawn up.  Does that sound familiar, folks?

Since then, millions upon millions, if not billions, of tax dollars have been thrown at the attempt to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and take care of chicken manure.  Oodles of programs have been created to assist farmers with taking care of the manure simply because the chicken industry repeatedly says that the farmers can’t afford it.  Overabundance of chicken manure is transported out of the area. Meanwhile, billion dollar chicken companies have sat back and taken a free ride, courtesy of taxpayers.

In come the threats and intimidation.  Chicken companies threaten to simply walk away.  We will move out of the State and go somewhere we can get away with polluting.  Thousands of jobs will be lost.  It’s the same old story of being held hostage by an industry that doesn’t believe in being a good corporate citizen and taking care of its industrial waste as any other industry has the responsibility of doing.

I see it as not being respectful and mindful of the communities and state the industry operates in.  They see it as more money in their pockets, a way of doing business.  We have been made to feel beholden to an industry that doesn’t give a hoot about anything other than dollars and cents.

In the volatile debate over the PLM Act in Maryland sides have been drawn up.  Departments within the State appear to be hostages to the chicken industry, once again, citing “the Eastern Shore’s chicken industry regarded as one of the most import aspects of the Shore’s economy”, according to The Star Democrat.

So okay, I’ll bite!  I’ll pretend that I believe that.  What I don’t understand is that millions of tax payer dollars are supporting programs to clean up chicken companies’ industrial waste.  Why are taxpayers footing the bill?

I’m a common sense kind of person however I just don’t get it.  Maybe someone can help me out!  On the one hand you have industry saying that farmers can’t afford to pay for disposing of chicken manure so we need to set up taxpaying programs.

On the other hand DPI, the chicken companies trade union, trots out farmers who say they and their workers are making a good living from the chickens they raise under contract with the companies.

Add the fact of State governmental agencies and a handful of lawmakers saying how important the industry is to the Eastern Shore economy, like the economy would collapse without the industry.  If there is all of this money floating around with contract farmers and within the industry, again, I ask, why are taxpayers footing the bill?

The surge of 200 new chicken houses planned for the Eastern Shore exacerbates the manure problem.  The new houses are much larger than what has been customary and can house up to 60,000 chickens apiece.  Warehouse sized buildings, to be exact.  Mostly, we’re not talking about the local farmer adding chicken houses to the farm we’re talking about investors with no ties to the community building chicken warehouse developments. (There are reasons but that’s a story for another day)

The industry has convinced government officials that “this doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is growing”, says Maryland Department of Agriculture Secretary, Joe Barten-Felder.  I underline the word necessarily because, here it comes again folks – it’s all in the words!  It doesn’t necessarily mean that the industry is NOT growing, either!

Maintenance is also cited by government officials.  Simply put, more than anything it’s replacing old buildings or old facilities with new facilities. The chicken industry wants new, bigger, with all the bells and whistles chicken houses.  I wonder which one of you older existing contract farms will be the ones terminated to accommodate the NOT growing chicken industry?  Sounds to me like something has to go to make room for the new!

We currently have to transport manure out of the area because of the excess.  Does anyone think that 200 bigger houses equals more chickens equals more manure?  These chicken warehouse developments have no land to apply manure or produce any crops to take up the nutrients.  Like too much icing on a cake, the Eastern Shore can’t handle any more manure.

Quite frankly, I find it insulting that the chicken industry throws out vague statements and expects that we all buy it.

Everyone else in the State has to pay their way in the effort to clean up the Bay for through sewer taxes, the flush tax for septic systems, fees for the septic hauler who pumps and dumps human waste, environmental taxes, and on, and on, and on.  Adding insult to injury, we have tax dollars piled on to take care of chicken manure.

I see this whole scenario as communities being ripped apart over chicken manure and companies who want others to pay for cleaning it up.  If I haven’t given enough reason to support the Poultry Litter Management Act, I can give you more!

Poultry Litter Management Act Fact Sheet

Jihadists, Beheadings? In Maryland?

The “Top Story” for February 16th in the Delmarva Farmer, a publication of American Farm Publications caught my eye.  In bold print the title read “”Environmental jihadists” blamed for environmental bill”. 

Seeing the word “jihadists” in the title lead me to believe that this was some very serious and scary stuff.  After all, the Delmarva Farmer is widely known and read within the farming community and most often that same community takes the word of the publication as the gospel truth.

I went on to read the story and I did indeed become very concerned and disturbed.  The issue relating to the title in the story is about the proposed Poultry Litter Management Act which has been introduced in Maryland’s House and Senate.

The legislation was being protested at the Maryland Agricultural Commission’s monthly meeting.  The commission, according to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) website —  “The Maryland Agriculture Commission is appointed by the Governor of Maryland and serves as an advisory body to the secretary and deputy secretary of agriculture. The commission consists of 30 members representing various commodities across Maryland, and includes both a consumer and a University of Maryland (ex officio) representative.”

One of the poultry industry representatives on the commission, Andrew McClean, said “I liken this [the legislation] to environmental jihadists, they’re trying to economically behead us”.  Whoa!  That is some very serious talk.  There is nothing humorous in McLean’s statement and it’s a highly inflammatory likening.

This came from a person representing the poultry industry that has been appointed by the Governor of Maryland and is an advisor to both the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture?  Having the ear of our highest office in the State and the highest offices in MDA?  Just what kind of rhetoric is the State of Maryland allowing to whip up the public?   This is awfully scary stuff!

To further the State’s agenda, a list of legislation that MDA is watching was given to committee members saying that the Poultry Litter Management Act would bring about co-permitting that would require that chicken companies verify that the farms they contract will follow state mandated regulations before chickens could be placed on farms.

That in itself is BUNK!  Company contracts already have a provision that the farmer will adhere to all state, county, and local laws.  This gives the contracting chicken company the “out” from legal implications should the farmer not be following the laws.

When the Poultry Litter Management Act becomes law, it will be for the chicken companies, who by the way own the chickens, to become responsible for the manure that their chickens create.  Any industry is responsible for the waste it creates.  Any good corporate citizen does this it’s a cost of doing business and a part of free enterprise.

However, in the State of Maryland the industry has had lawmaker’s ears and many programs were initiated to clean up the overabundance of chicken manure belonging to the chicken companies.  In other words the good citizens of Maryland have been giving the billion dollar chicken industry a free ride when it comes to industrial waste responsibility.  All of the government programs created are at the courtesy of taxpayers.  The one’s specifically for shouldering the responsibility of chicken industrial waste amounts to nothing more than corporate welfare.  Why does a billion dollar industry need precious tax dollars that could better serve much more important needs within the state?

We are at a time in our country’s history when the words “jihad, jihadist, terror, terrorist” are associated with radicalized Islam and ultimately ISIS.  Beheadings by these groups are not uncommon and we are seeing in our own country “lone wolf’s/ jihadist”, if you will, committing uncivilized and barbaric acts in a civilized nation.  There are disturbed people out there that one doesn’t know what they are capable of.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve heard threatening type statements about beheadings coming from those who are supposed to be “leaders” in the farming community.  Is this what the farming community wants to be portrayed as?

It’s beyond my comprehension why a publication such as the Delmarva Farmer would even print such inflammatory stories using bold headlines.  Is it for the purpose of inciting disturbed people to commit horrendous acts?  I’ll bet a milkshake that the editors didn’t think of that view.

I’ve previously stated that the chicken industry tears apart the moral fabric of our communities.  I need to amend that statement to include questions about the morality of publications as well as State leaders allowing highly inflammatory and inciting statements into advisement of any government business.


A Chicken’s Bucolic Life?


A friend sent me a link to a website entitled Chicken Check In, which at first, I thought my friend was sending me a joke.  I anticipated something funny!  So I clicked on the link  and low and behold, I saw a video banner that showed a carpet of chickens, tens-of-thousands of chickens in an industrial poultry warehouse.  The website belonged to none other than the National Chicken Council (NCC).  This was no joke, folks!

I immediately started noticing things that most people wouldn’t and thought to myself – “The NCC is its own worst enemy”!  Yes that’s exactly what I said for those of you who are reading this and have taken a deep inhalation of air in shock that I would dare to say anything of the sort.  Even more shocking is that I talked to myself saying “what a bunch of clowns”.  I wonder which is more shocking – that I talked to myself or that I said “what a bunch of clowns”?

In an effort to appear transparent and I suppose to show the wonderful life of the chicken in an industrial setting, NCC has once again, shot itself in the foot.  Ah, YOUHOO, NCC, chickens that can only lift themselves and take a few steps before plopping down in exhaustion is not a bucolic slice of life no matter what your experts say!  Furthermore, if anyone takes the time to notice, why are some of the chickens gasping for air?  Chickens do not NORMALLY breathe or try to draw in air through their mouths.

When the chickens do manage to haul themselves up off the manure they are laying in, it saddens me to see that nothing has changed since I was a part of the chicken industry.  Having voiced my concerns many times over about the welfare of the chickens and the methods of the industry madness to excuse itself from responsible humane treatment I concluded that industry doesn’t want to change its ways.  I think that in the interest of self-preservation industry makes believe it changes its ways.

Going back to the Chicken Check In website, I click on the heading “A Day In The Life”.  Eww, look at all of the poo that the chickens are standing and lying in!  I’m not impressed with the picture banner that greets me.  Why would depicting this convince anyone that standing or lying in one’s own everyday excrement is comfortable to a chicken?  I can’t imagine that doing so would be comfortable to anyone be they man or beast.

We hear from a company “poultry welfare expert” that the chickens have plenty of room to commune or go off by their self when they want “alone time”.  Let’s go back to the video banner that greets us and the tens-of-thousands of chickens we see with less than a square foot of living space.  I guess the chickens do commune when they have no choice.  Alone time? Huh!  Someone please tell me that I’m missing something because I don’t see any place in the warehouse where the chickens find “alone time”.  Very misleading if I don’t say so myself!

I do have to agree with the company “poultry welfare expert” the chickens have plenty of feed and water at all times.  Yes folks, 24-7 do the chickens gorge on feed.  I suppose this is the part that is considered to be best animal welfare practices.  Just imagine letting your pet to gorge itself 24-7.

I further have to wonder when the chickens roost and sleep.  I didn’t see anything about that on the website.  Roosting and sleeping is a natural behavior of chickens as they like to sleep in high places.  It’s a safety issue to a chicken and can provide alone time should it so desire.  Having at least 8 hours of consecutive darkness is also natural for chickens however I’m not aware of anytime during a 24 hour day that industrial chickens have 8 hours of consecutive darkness.  Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!

I had to finally stop looking farther into the NCC Chicken Check In and I’m positive that I’d find many more things to point out.  Disgust and anger overwhelmed me and I don’t want to have these negative thoughts during the Holidays.  After all it is supposed to be a time of Peace, Love, and Joy!

From what I just typed, it dawned on me, most everyone must feel the same way.  It’s much easier to ignore the disgust and anger than to do something about it.

For all of the many, many issues that have been publicly brought forward and voiced, pictures, documentary’s, exposes ‘ , campaigns, what have you, I can easily see from the NCC Chicken website, it’s still, business as usual in the chicken industry.

In my humble opinion, there is something that is very wrong with the entire picture.  However, I’m singing – tis the season to be jolly, falalalala lalalala!  Happy Holidays to all and may you have Peace, Love, and Joy during the Season.

A CAFO Intends To Be Our New Neighbor

After transitioning our farm from industrialized chicken production to an Animal Welfare Approved certified pasture based egg farm 3 years ago, a CAFO now plans to be our neighbor!  We’ve learned from the prospective buyer of the property neighboring us that he has plans to build a chicken CAFO.

It is unfathomable as to why any company would allow their chickens to be put next to a pasture raised farm with chickens on it.  The industry claims that strict bio-security is a mainstay of their operations and necessary to its survival.

Bio-security is the practice of measures taken to prevent the spread of disease on poultry farms.

Looking at the situation from an independent farm, raising hens in a pasture based system one has to question the rights of an individual farm.  What about the right of that farm protecting its chickens from viruses and bacteria’s spread by industrial chicken CAFO’s?

All appearances indicate that the independent farm has no rights and that the highly potential risk created to that farm by the chicken industry is of no concern.

Industrial chickens are vaccinated for many diseases.  Introduction of live viruses into an area where no viruses exist or introducing a bacteria or disease where none exist is a recipe for disaster.  That is basic 101 bio- security for any poultry producer.

In 2008, Johns Hopkins researchers found that poultry trucks driving to processing plants spread harmful bacteria into the environment, exposing other drivers, pedestrians, and rural communities to these bacteria.  Researchers consistently detected drug-resistant bacteria in the air and on surfaces inside vehicles while driving with their windows down behind poultry trucks (Rule et al. 2008).

In our case, a right of way from the county road will be mutually used.  Harmful bacteria will exist in the environment spread from the industry trucks entering and leaving the CAFO.  It’s reasonable to expect that our vehicles will pick up bacteria’s not only harmful to ourselves but also harmful to our disease free hens.  Walking to our mailbox could be harmful to our health!

Drug resistant bacteria spread by industry vehicles will not be the only concern.  County regulations allow for building of chicken houses to be 20 feet from property lines.  These huge buildings can hold up to 60,000 chickens in one house.  Air exchange is accomplished through fans only.  It’s not unreasonable to conclude that the same drug resistant bacteria’s that are found in feathers and dust blowing from trucks will also be exhausted into the air from housing.

Less than ½ mile down the road from the farm is a YMCA.  Joggers and bicyclist use the area for recreational activities and for YMCA sponsored events.  Schools use the sports fields at the YMCA for practices.  Are public and school activities to be discontinued just to accommodate a CAFO that wants to move into the area?

Clearly, the chicken industry has no thought or care of potential risks to human health nor any respect for the neighbor that their CAFO’s want to go next to.

Thrown to the Wolves!

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

Fast Forward….. Kill The Chesapeake Bay!

The Washington Post reports that an alarming “dead zone” is growing in the Chesapeake Bay because of unusually high nutrient levels this year. No kidding it’s being called alarming!

For as long as I can remember alarms have sounded about nutrient pollution associated with runoff into the Bay. Unfortunately, no one has paid much attention. Now officials in Virginia and Maryland are saying that this year the area of “dead zone” is on track to be the Bay’s largest in history.

We’ve pushed the “Fast Forward” button in the effort to kill the Chesapeake Bay and I have to wonder why. How much more needs to happen before we put a stop to the continuous bad behaviors that significantly contribute to the killing of the Bay?

Protectionism of Big Ag is a major culprit. It’s not the farmers, as we know farmers, it’s the powerful and tremendously wealthy lobbying associations of the major corporate players of food production and it’s no secret. Will Baker, President of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) has finally put a foot forward, after years of handling Big Chicken with kid gloves, and specifically said that we need to look at the amount of money that Washington lobbying associations “have given to candidates and lobbying, it’s in the hundreds of millions.”

Baker says that it’s “not mom and pop farmers” and the American Farm Bureau Federation’s director of energy and policy, Paul Schlegal, second’s that saying that “farmers in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed take a backseat to no one in their commitment to helping to clean up the bay”. This is where it gets confusing for ordinary folks.

If it’s not the farmers who are wantonly polluting and killing the bay with nitrogen and phosphorous runoff, who is it? The farm has been the scapegoat for decades because it’s the end of the line for Big Ag. Intensified, concentrated animal feeding operations to raise our nation’s meat and poultry has become the major player of production and if farmers want to remain on the farm this is the choice that they have. Unless a farmer raises animals according to the dictates of corporations there are not many who are able to stay on the farm. Period!

The dictates by Big Ag have turned farming into industrial sized production cramming animals into confined buildings on as little land as possible without thought as to how the land will safely handle all of the manure produced. It’s not about feeding people it’s about lining the coffers, and pockets, of a handful of select corporations who control our nation’s food supply.

The madness of the vicious circle we are entrapped in positively indicates that we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye. The land can only handle a certain amount of animal production before runoff from manure causes major problems in our streams, rivers, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay.

Studies, plans, initiatives, and nutrient reduction goals are continuously conducted, set, and not met. Every year increase in animal production occurs regardless of the fact that nutrient levels must be reduced. What does it take for our illustrious politician to understand that increased animal production means increased amounts of manure leading to more runoff?

It’s become a joke where EPA is easily blamed and lawsuits from both sides of the issue are thrown at the agency. The environmental side sues EPA for having weak anti-pollution measures. When the agency set forth a “pollution diet” last December to dramatically reduce the amount of nitrogen, phosphorous, and sediment that states in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed can allow in the Bay from municipalities and farms, the Farm Bureau sues EPA to stop the plan from going forward. A damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation for EPA!

Meanwhile, the Chesapeake Bay continues to die. As a taxpaying citizen who still doesn’t know what the additional environmental portion of my county taxes go to I have to say that I don’t appreciate my hard earned money going to the support of environmental initiatives that are not working. I expect results not failures!

In addition, I want answers. The Chesapeake Bay is a national treasure and I want to know who gave anyone the right to play stupid manipulative games all the while degrading something that belongs to all of us. That’s right, the Chesapeake Bay is there for everyone to enjoy not just for the whims of a select greedy few.

Farm Bureau says that their lawsuit is not about the quality of water in the Chesapeake Bay it’s about the confines of what EPA can or can’t do based on laws our illustrious politicians have written. I think that says it all. Big Ag with its powerful lobby machine has influenced the laws crippling the very agency within our government that is supposedly there to protect OUR water.

When will we, the American citizen, be afforded some protectionism?

Alarming “dead zone” grows in the Chesapeake Washington Post

EPA Pollution Diet For the Chesapeake

Growing Influence: the Political Power of Agribusiness and the Fouling of America’s Waterways