A federal judge has ruled that a Maryland farmer who raises chickens for Perdue Farms did not discharge pollution into a nearby river, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. U.S. District Judge William Nickerson sided with Alan Hudson in a 50-page ruling, saying a New York-based environmental group that sued the farmer and Perdue for pollution had failed to prove its case.

Waterkeeper Alliance had alleged that chicken litter from the farm has been discharged into a river that flows into Chesapeake Bay, and that Perdue was responsible for the pollution. Nickerson said that the group had failed to do adequate sampling to identify the source of the pollution, adding that with the amount of time and resources spent on the case, it was indefensible that Waterkeeper "would not have conducted the straightforward testing and sampling that could have established a discharge from the poultry operation, if there was such a discharge."

Perdue stated that the decision was a “good day for Maryland and for agriculture.” Waterkeeper Alliance announced it would consider an appeal of the decision.

The federal suit was filed in 2010 after representatives from Waterkeeper flew over the farm and identified what they initially believed to be a large uncovered pile of chicken manure. The piles were eventually found not to be chicken manure. Lawyers for Perdue and the Hudson family, owners of the farm, said the chicken manure wasn't getting out in great enough amounts to pollute, and Alan Hudson testified that he took steps to avoid pollution and to keep the manure in the houses.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek