Processing Magazine

Judge in Oklahoma rules poultry litter is solid waste

August 17, 2009
A federal judge ruled that poultry litter could be classified as a solid waste under federal environmental laws when applied in excessive amounts on farmland, reports the Associated Press. The decision was a partial victory for the state of Oklahoma in its environmental lawsuit against 12 Arkansas poultry companies. Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson claims excessive application of chicken waste has resulted in runoff polluting the Illinois River watershed. The case has drawn national attention because it could lead to similar lawsuits across the country challenging how the industry does business. A trial is set for Sept. 21. Attorneys for the poultry companies argued the litter should not be labeled solid waste because it has a beneficial use as a fertilizer and has a market value. The state argued that litter was "patently" solid waste. U.S. District Judge Gregory K. Frizzell said excessive application of the litter made it a solid waste. The 1 million-acre watershed spans parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas and has 1,800 poultry houses, which produce an estimated 345,000 tons of chicken waste each year. The companies in the lawsuit are Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., and Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production LLC, George''s Inc. George''s Farms Inc. Peterson Farms Inc. and Simmons Foods Inc.