Hickman’s Family Farms has been sued in a federal court, as plaintiffs claim the egg company’s farms in the Arizona communities of Tonopah and Arlington are heavily polluting the air with ammonia and strong odors.
The plaintiffs, which include the environmental group Don’t Waste Arizona, allege that the family-owned company is aware of the situation but is unwilling to do anything about it.
But Billy Hickman, the company’s vice president of operations, defended Hickman’s Family Farms, stating that he believed the odors people are complaining about are coming from dairy farms in the area. He acknowledged that the Hickman’s facilities do produce about 1,000 pounds of ammonia daily, he didn’t know if it was truly polluting the air, Fox 10 Phoenix reported.
The plaintiffs want Hickman’s Family Farms to pay a $264 million fine, but Judge Murray Snow, who is presiding over the case, stated that such an amount would be unreasonable and would put the company out of business. He said that if a fine were to be imposed, it was likely to be much less harsh. The plaintiffs also want Hickman’s Family Farms to be ordered by the judge to properly monitor and report ammonia levels on a regular basis.
Hickman’s Family Farms, also known as Hickman’s Egg Ranch, ranks 13th among the largest egg producers in the United States. According to the WATTAgNet Top Poultry Companies Database, Hickman’s had a flock of 7.35 million hens as of December 31, 2017.
The company has layer farms in Arizona and Colorado, distribution operations in Iowa, Nevada and California. Its customers are concentrated in the western United States, going as far east as Iowa and as far west as Hawaii.
In September 2017, the company said that not only was it working to meet consumer demands by generating more cage-free egg products but is also working to branch outside the company's traditional role of farming into the packaging realm to work with a California recycler to develop 100 percent-recycled egg cartons.