In response to a lawsuit that was filed against a Maryland poultry producer for alleged Clean Water Act Violations, a group of academics is working to find out what legal resources Maryland farmers may want. Over the next several months, the group will be conducting surveys and holding public meetings in hopes to form a plan to give farmers more legal options.
The need for the study to help farmers with legal matters, which has received $250,000 in funding for a one-year period, was prompted by the 2010 lawsuit filed by the Waterkeeper Alliance against Maryland poultry farmers Alan and Kristen Hudson, who raised birds for Perdue Farms. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed in December 2012.
The study will be a collaborative effort among the Francis King Carey School of Law, the University of Maryland agriculture school, the Maryland Easter Shore agriculture school, and the university's extension service.
The study's outcome is still in question, but several options such as an agricultural law clinic, attorneys offering lower fees for farmers, or more legal training for university extension agents are in consideration.
The study has the moral support of the Maryland Farm Bureau, as well as Maryland Sen. Richard Colburn, the Daily Times of Salisbury reported.
"In the case of the Hudsons, had there been an ag law clinic, they would've been able to get in touch with them and perhaps that would have met their needs," Maryland Farm Bureau President Pat Langenfelder told the Times.