The end of what has been years of legal drama is nearing for Alan and Kristin Hudson, family farmers from Maryland who have been at the center of a lawsuit pitting environmentalists against agriculture.
The Waterkeeper Alliance’s lawsuit against the Hudson’s and Perdue Farms dragged on for years, and though the presiding judge ruled against the Waterkeeper Alliance in December, the group continued to mull the possibilities of an appeal.
Now the wait is over. According to Delmarva Now, the Waterkeeper Alliance missed the Jan. 22 deadline to file an appeal, indicating that the group has decided against contesting the judge’s decision.
“Waterkeeper Alliance has decided not to file an appeal in the Hudson/Perdue CAFO case. ... Given the high burden appellate courts impose for reversing a district court’s findings of fact, Waterkeeper Alliance will not appeal Judge Nickerson’s decision,” Marc A. Yaggi, executive director of the Waterkeeper Alliance said in a statement. “Although the Waterkeeper Alliance is disappointed with the ultimate conclusion of the case, we believe that many of the issues brought to light during the trial ... will lead to progress in protecting and restoring the bay,”
For Alan Hudson the decision brings closure to a long road that has dominated his family’s life for years.
“I’m glad that they did. I’m glad that much of it’s over, anyway. That’s a good thing,” he told Delmarva Now.
Perdue also responded to the decision, pointing that the nightmare that has plagued the Hudon’s can be put behind them for good.
“We are pleased that the Waterkeeper Alliance and their taxpayer-funded legal counsel at the University of Maryland’s Environmental Law Clinic have decided not to prolong this irresponsible attack on Maryland agriculture and have accepted Judge Nickerson’s clearly stated decision,” Julie DeYoung, spokeswoman for Perdue Farms in a statement.
One more step is still facing the Hudson’s and Perdue as they attempt to win at least $3 million in legal fees. Read more here.
The case dates back to 2009 when environmental group the Assateague Coastkeeper reported what appeared to be a pile of chicken manure on the Hudson’s property draining into a nearby ditch. This prompted legal action by the Waterkeeper Alliance. Though the material was later confirmed to be treated sewage sludge from Ocean City, Md., which was used by the farm as fertilizer, the Waterkeeper Alliance proceeded with its lawsuit against the Hudson’s and also Perdue.
Had the Waterkeeper Alliance won the case, the decision would have rippled across the agriculture committee and set a precedent for many large- and small-scale farms in the nation.