February 22, 2008
Spreading manure on farm fields provides farmers an important source of natural fertilizer for their crops. According to a legal brief submitted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, an Oklahoma court case could create roadblocks to this traditional farming practice.
In a friend-of-the-court brief recently filed in Oklahoma’s Federal District Court, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have told the court of adverse legal precedents in a case — State of Oklahoma v. Tysons Foods, Inc. — involving the spreading of chicken litter on land in a specific river watershed.
“The spreading of manure and chicken litter is already highly regulated under the Clean Water Act and state laws,” said AFBF General Counsel Julie Anna Potts. “Adding regulations on the use of fertilizer is unnecessary and does not help improve the environment.”
In this litigation, the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma attorney general have asked the Oklahoma Federal District Court to issue an emergency injunction to ban the spreading of chicken litter under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Over the next few weeks, the court will hold a hearing before ruling on the request for the injunction. The request is part of the attorney general’s broader strategy, seeking damages under Superfund laws for alleged pollution to a watershed caused by the spreading of chicken litter.
Together, AFBF and NCBA filed the brief because an adverse ruling could spark attempts in other states, which potentially could prohibit spreading manure — an important source of fertilizer. As an indicator of the legal importance of this case to agriculture, the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Texas Farm Bureau and Oklahoma Farm Bureau have filed separate friend-of-the-court briefs.
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