Save the Illinois River, Inc.
24369 E 757 Rd.
Tahlequah, OK 74464-1949
(918) 284-9440

Light Shines on Oklahoma's Chicken Lawsuit

Save the Illinois River, Inc. | Environment | January 14, 2024

Chicken barns

Mega Chicken Houses, Delaware County, Oklahoma
Investigative / Enterprise:Oklahoma    

‘I didn’t think they would agree to anything’: Inside the broken negotiations that led to Oklahoma’s 20-year case against several poultry companies
Oklahoma has blamed the chicken industry for polluting one of the state’s greatest attractions, the Illinois River. As a two-decade lawsuit is finally on the cusp of resolution, newly uncovered records show the private negotiations.

Key takeaways

* In private, poultry companies blamed chicken farmers for pollution, records show. In public, they said they wanted to protect local farms.
* During negotiations, poultry companies made offers they knew the state would not accept.
* The Oklahoma Farm Bureau attacked the state's attorney general over the lawsuit with the backing of poultry companies.

As the calendar turned to 2005, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson grew more frustrated each time he opened the newspaper or turned on the radio.

For nearly four years, his office had been meeting with representatives of several large poultry companies, including Tyson Foods, in hopes of reaching an agreement to rein in the pollution from chicken litter in the Illinois River Watershed.

But Edmondson believed those same companies were also funding ads accusing him of trying to put small chicken farms out of business, leading to calls into his office from worried chicken farmers and their representatives in the state Legislature.

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Save the Illinois River, Inc.
24369 East 757 Rd
Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74464

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