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Hawai'i CFS

Advocates Continue Fight Against Foster Farms Mega-Chicken Operation in Oregon

October 26, 2023
Center for Food Safety

 LINN COUNTY, OR —Yesterday, several Oregon-based farmer groups filed their opposition to the Oregon Department of Agriculture's (ODA) motion for summary judgment in the ongoing fight to rescind the water quality permit for J-S Ranch, a proposed mega-chicken production facility. The farmer and environmental groups in opposition include Farmers Against Foster Farms, Friends of Family Farmers, Willamette Riverkeeper, and third-generation farmer Christina Eastman.

"My family has farmed this area for generations and I have spent my life doing my part to protect the delicate ecosystem of the North Santiam River, and this mega-chicken operation seriously threatens the water quality of this special place," said Christina Eastman, neighbor to the permitted J-S Ranch. "The idea that the state doesn't have the ability to protect our River from a massive factory farm is ridiculous." 

Today's filing lays out plainly the dangers of water pollution associated with factory farms such as J-S Ranch, as well as the legal precedent for canceling the permit for such a heavily polluting facility.

"The state failed to fulfill its duty to protect this pristine stretch of the North Santiam River from the chicken manure dust and ammonia that will be blown from the fans of 11 enormous buildings, housing 580,000 chickens at a time, right next to the River," said Amy van Saun, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety and counsel for the Petitioners. "This is a very wet area, and the state cannot keep ignoring the reality that J-S Ranch will discharge pollutants to the River in violation of federal and state laws meant to protect our water quality."

J-S Ranch is a proposed mega-chicken operation capable of raising nearly 3.5 million broiler chickens per year in the sensitive area of the Wiseman Island reach in the North Santiam River. The area is home to numerous wildlife species, including some endangered salmonids, and provides water and recreation to many in the area.

J-S Ranch will collect, store, and export massive quantities of livestock waste—approximately 4,500 tons of chicken litter a year—while blowing ammonia and dust from the chicken litter out of its barns located just a quarter of a mile from the river. Despite the strenuous objections of community members around the proposed facility, ODA granted a ten-year general groundwater quality permit with only a few additional conditions. While ODA claims this facility will cause no pollution to ground or surface waters such as the North Santiam River, the plaintiffs and other community members are seriously concerned given the high levels of precipitation, proximity of the river, and huge quantities of chicken waste.

The plaintiffs are represented by the nonprofit Center for Food Safety and a local firm, Sugerman Dahab.

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