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CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Rich Bindell, rbindell(at)fwwatch(dot)org, 202-683-2457
Food & Water Watch Denounces Governor for Improperly Interfering with Federal Lawsuit
Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch
WASHINGTON - November 21 - “With a recent public letter to the dean of the Maryland School of Law’s Environmental Clinic, Governor Martin O’Malley has clearly taken a stand: he’s for polluters and against the Bay.
“In the November 14th letter, the governor attacks the Law Clinic for representing the threatened interests of the Bay watershed against pollution pouring from one of Perdue’s contract farms, Hudson Farm. The case represents an effort to clean up a dirty poultry operation and to establish, for the first time, that a big poultry company is responsible for the massive amounts of harmful waste it produces. Through abusive contracting practices, the industry hides behind growers, many of which barely eke out a living.
“If the influential Democratic governor really cared about the financial situation of poultry growers, he would have weighed in on the fair farm rules, known as the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyard Administration (GIPSA) rule, focused on stopping abuses by the poultry industry. Recently killed through actions by the Obama administration and Congress and opposed by Perdue, the adoption of these rules would have improved the financial outlook for growers. Additionally, these rules would have protected growers from retaliation by the poultry industry when they advocate for better terms on their contracts.
“Instead, the governor’s letter completely ignores the role that the $4.6 billion poultry giant Perdue plays in poisoning the Bay with its millions of pounds of chicken waste each year. Study after study, the most recent a 2010 EPA paper, shows that agricultural waste is the single-largest source of pollution to this critically important waterway. With his recent letter, there is little doubt that Martin O’Malley places his friend Jim Perdue’s profits over the health of the Bay, the jobs of local watermen and health and safety of all the citizens of Maryland who enjoy the Bay watershed. The governor should be ashamed and owes the people of Maryland an apology.
“While denouncing the lawsuit as ‘questionable,’ the governor fails to note that a federal court issued a decision on Perdue’s and Hudson Farm’s failed attempt to have the case dismissed over a year ago. The difference between a federal judge and a politician like O’Malley is that judges are not influenced by campaign contributions and re-election campaigns. The judge in this case made an impartial legal determination of the merits of this claim based on the law, while the governor made a self-serving political determination based on the number of votes he hopes to gather in his next campaign for office.
“The governor’s actions are far removed from what you would hope to see from a true leader. If he’s going to run for president in 2016, he needs to learn how to act presidential. He can begin by withdrawing his letter and announcing that he is going to allow the courts to do their job without further interference from his office.”
Food & Water Watch works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainable. So we can all enjoy and trust in what we eat and drink, we help people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping shared resources under public control.