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A farmer wins in court, at a cost
Ohio Farm Bureau has been leading the effort to find solutions to water quality issues in the state. In Maryland, which has been dealing with similar challenges, a recent court case highlighted just how much a constructive approach to protecting the environment is needed. Here’s how the story played out:
The environmental group Waterkeeper Alliance filed a lawsuit against Alan and Kristin Hudson’s farm alleging that a longstanding manure pile was causing runoff in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The state Department of Environment investigated. They found a pile of biosolids that was delivered to the farm for use as fertilizer. The family was asked to move the pile and complied.
Waterkeeper Alliance amended the lawsuit saying manure from exhaust fans and the ordinary traffic of people and equipment to and from the chicken barns was polluting the water.
A judge ultimately ruled in the Hudsons’ favor noting that the Waterkeeper lawsuit was neither responsible nor effective. Unfortunately, that was after the family racked up more than $100,000 in legal costs.
Rights and Wrongs
“Water quality issues are a good example of the increasing importance of the need for farmers to be involved in continually reviewing and improving our practices, but it is also important to protect the rights of property owners against frivolous lawsuits such as this.” ~Adam Sharp, Ohio Farm Bureau’s vice president of public policy
Because of the similarities in nutrient management issues in Maryland and Ohio, Ohio Farm Bureau financially supported the defense of the Hudson farm, as did other state Farm Bureaus.