GreenLaw joined local farmers, environmental groups, and
others in forming Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP). GPPs purpose is to inform consumers, whom we like to call “food citizens,” as well as businesses and government about the true costs of the factory farming of meat chickens, and about the need to support and develop fairer, more humane and sustainable alternatives. The opposite of the factory farm model, and the one we support, is chickens raised on pasture.
Georgia has become the leading broiler producer in the nation, but only at great costs to animal welfare, human and environmental health, and farmers and workers. We believe Georgia can become a leader in promoting a fair, humane and sustainable alternative.
On Thursday, February 9, Georgians for Pastured Poultry (GPP) released a report “Out of Sight, Out of Mind: The Impacts of Chicken Meat Factory Farming on the State of Georgia”
. GreenLaw contributed a review of the legal issues surrounding industrial poultry production and its more environmentally friendly alternative, pastured poultry.
The industrialization of Georgia’s poultry farms has come at a cost not reflected in the price consumers pay. These chicken factories generate enormous volumes of waste:
• Collectively, they generate approximately 2 million tons of poultry litter annually, about 20% of the US total
• Broiler waste may contain arsenic, a human carcinogen
• When waste is over-applied to crops, it can seep into the lakes, rivers and aquifers of Georgia, impairing water quality
• Recreational use, waterfront property values, water quality and fish biodiversity all decline with excess waste in rivers and lakes.
Although industrial poultry operations can pollute like factories, regulatory oversight and enforcement in Georgia has been minimal and is likely to become more so due to a recent unfavorable court decision. Despite increasing recognition that massive poultry operations pose significant threats to water quality, it is looking doubtful that there will be adequate regulation and enforcement in the near future.
In the meantime, a promising alternative to the factory farm model is taking root, but faces practical, legal and regulatory hurdles. Pasture-raised poultry has become increasingly available in response to rising consumer demand. At farmers’ markets, restaurants and now even large grocery outlets, consumers can more than ever before “vote with their fork” for sustainably raised poultry -- chickens raised in smaller numbers and allowed to roam freely on pasture.
For pastured poultry to continue to thrive in Georgia, the regulatory landscape must change. It must become tougher on the competition, forcing factory farms to internalize the pollution costs they impose on society at large, while becoming more responsive to the many aspiring farmers trying to provide an alternative that consumers want.
You can read the executive summary
of the report on our website.
It has been a mild winter so far, but Georgians for Smart Energy and EMC customers are turning up the heat on the 4 remaining EMCs in the consortium proposing to build two coal-fired power plants in south Georgia: Upson EMC, Snapping Shoals EMC, Central Georgia EMC or Washington EMC. Following the announcement
that Cobb EMC’s board of directors voted to end the electric co-op’s involvement in development of the proposed Plant Washington coal plant, Snapping Shoals EMC customers have been questioning continuing participation
in building the coal plant.GreenLaw is currently appealing
the proposed air pollution permit for one of the proposed coal-fired plants, Plant Washington, on behalf of Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Fall-line Alliance for a Clean Environment and Ogeechee Riverkeeper. The second proposed coal-fired power plant, Plant Ben Hill
, has not reached a permitting stage.