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Perdue Launches Fraudulent PR Effort
A national consumer group challenged chicken giant Perdue Oct. 25 to step forward and take responsibility for creating the SaveFarmFamilies.org website—and to correct misinformation on it regarding the lawsuit filed by Waterkeeper Alliance to address pollution run-off from the Eastern Shore farm of Alan and Kristin Hudson.
In an open letter to Perdue CEO Jim Perdue, Food & Water Watch questioned its PR strategy behind the lawsuit.
“The website portrays the Hudsons as victims of overzealous persecution by an out-of-state environmental group, with barely a mention of Perdue,” wrote Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter in the letter. “Given the amount of misinformation on the site, it’s easy to see why Perdue might want to cover up its role.”
The SaveFarmFamilies.org was registered anonymously though a web register proxy service, but the site’s IP address belongs to Perdue’s web server in Salisbury, Maryland, where it sits alongside Perdue’s chicken recipes and homepage.
“Proxy registrations are for folks who don’t want you to know who owns the site—sort of like proxy farmers are for integrators who don’t want folks to know who really owns the waste,” wrote Hauter.
SaveFarmFamilies.org, launched Oct. 3, 2011, was purportedly created to help Alan and Kristin Hudson pay their mounting legal bills from a lawsuit filed by the environmental nonprofit Waterkeeper Alliance. It claims to be a grassroots effort to help save the family farm by portraying the Hudsons, and farmers in general, as victims of radical environmental groups and perpetuates myths about chicken farming in Maryland and the lawsuit itself. In fact, SaveFarmFamilies.org is an astroturfing effort—an industry-generated attempt to spread misinformation while purporting to be by farmers for farmers.
In 2006, four processors—including Perdue—controlled nearly three out of five broiler operations in the U.S. These companies, known as integrators, control every step of chicken production. The Hudsons are contract growers who do not even own the birds that they raise and fatten for Perdue. But they are responsible for disposing of the waste that these birds produce.
The lawsuit is an attempt to get Perdue to take responsibility for the waste produced by their chickens, which growers simply raise under unfair contracts, and to stop polluting the waterways surrounding these contract farms.
“If you really want to help local farmers and communities surrounding the bay, then you should stop forcing your growers to sign unfair contracts that shift the cost and risk of doing business from the integrator to the grower. It is time to stop the baseless propaganda, stop hiding behind your struggling contract growers, and take responsibility for your production wastes,” concluded Hauter in the letter.
For more information, click here.
Read Food & Water Watch’s open letter to Perdue here.
Read Six Myths and Facts About Perdue’s Savefarmfamilies.org here.
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.
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As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.