Alan and Kristin Hudson, a beleaguered Maryland farm family who are the target of a Waterkeeper Alliance lawsuit, are finding plenty of support to help fight their legal challenges. Agricultural organizations and businesses from around the country, including thirteen state farm bureaus, Southern States Cooperative, Rabobank International, as well as the Maryland Pork Producers Association, have pledged their support of the Hudsons.
The groups say the lawsuit, which alleges the Hudson poultry farm committed violations to the Clean Water Act, is misguided.
The outpouring of support is being organized and led by SaveFarmFamilies.org , whose members work to highlight the consequences of the Waterkeepers’ litigation tactics and the implications they will have for family farms across the country.
"We believe what the Waterkeepers are doing is a grave injustice, and this legal fight goes well beyond just one farm family," said Andy Dietrick, director of public relations for the Indiana Farm Bureau. "We feel the Waterkeepers' tactics could negatively impact our farm families here in Indiana and we want to stand up and tell them what they are doing is wrong."
The increase in institutional backing, in addition to the hundreds of new individual supporters, has created an echo chamber of support for the Hudsons and other farm families around the nation. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley has sent a letter supporting the Hudsons to Phoebe Haddon, dean of the University of Maryland School of Law.
In addition, a host of influential organizations and Maryland county farm bureaus have joined to raise awareness about the Waterkeepers’ tactics.
"This lawsuit is a pivotal moment for agriculture and we are supporting the Hudsons and SaveFarmFamilies.org because we are concerned that this lawsuit could be the first of many," said Jason Scott, president of the Maryland Grain Producers Association. "It is absolutely wrong for the Waterkeepers to use the Hudsons as a pawn for their larger objectives.”
Maryland farmers now live in fear that they will be the next victim, even as they strive to do what is right for the Chesapeake Bay. Scott said the lawsuit goes well beyond poultry - if the Waterkeepers can bankrupt the Hudsons to win this case, it will open up the floodgate for them to go after any type of farmer or producer across the country.
“We are talking about family farmers who are following the rules and trying to make a living producing wholesome, affordable food for Americans,” Scott added.
"We now have members ranging from the Delmarva Coon Hunters to businesses such as Southern States," said Lee Richardson, president of the Wicomico County (Md.) Farm Bureau. "We also received backing from national farm bureaus of Arkansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, and others. This tremendous and varied support, coupled with Governor O’Malley’s support, signifies how many people out there believe what the Waterkeeper Alliance is doing is wrong."
For a full list of the new supporters and to learn more about sustaining and defending family farms, visit www.savefarmfamilies.org.