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[Archived] Poultry Growers Meeting

| POULTRY FARMS | April 21, 2017

While it may not have had quite that much of a ring to it, the sentiment 
among poultry growers at a meeting last week boiled down to something pretty much that simple. 
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
 Poultry Growers Seek Voice In Dispute

NW Arkansas Morning News Editorial

Poultry growers of the Ozarks unite.

You have nothing to lose.

Nothing to lose at all.

While it may not have had quite that much of a ring to it, the sentiment
among poultry growers at a meeting last week boiled down to something
pretty much that simple.
Growers have been the fall guys in the battle between Arkansas and
Oklahoma over water quality, so they say. They're mad and they're not
going to take it anymore.

Arkansas and Oklahoma have -- for what seems like forever now -- been
engaged in a series of legal and regulatory disputes over the quality of
water in streams that originate in Northwest Arkansas or flow through the
area before entering Oklahoma. Oklahoma has insisted that Arkansas -- and
the poultry industry in particular -- is responsible for declining water
quality in the region.

Poultry production has been identified by some as one culprit, possibly
the main culprit, in increasing levels of phosphorus in area streams.
Phosphorus is a by-product of chicken litter, which growers have in the
past spread over the ground from which it enters the streams in runoff
water, according to some scientists. Growers claims city wastewater
plants and other water users also contribute to the problem but they've
not been blamed.

The city of Tulsa, Okla., was paid $7.5 million by area poultry companies
in an out-of-court settlement of a 2001 lawsuit over pollution of the
city's water supply. Under the terms of the settlement, growers are
prohibited from spreading litter on the ground in some areas of the

Both state governments, several municipal governments and the big poultry
companies have invested considerable amounts of time and money in these
disputes and lawsuits to protect their interests, which haven't
necessarily been those of the growers.

That's the rub. Growers feel they've been left holding the bag in past
agreements aimed at improving water quality. With Oklahoma Attorney
General Drew Edmondson threatening another water-quality lawsuit at least
some growers are determined not to be victims again.

That's understandable. Poultry growers probably haven't had a voice in
the discussion over water quality so far and likely won't have unless
they organize. Whether they will win their argument in court or elsewhere
is uncertain. Unless it can be shown that poultry operations don't
contribute to the pollution problem they're unlikely to fare much better
as a group than they have individually. But at the very least they should
be heard.