Press Release

Animal Legal Defense Fund Files Notice of Intent to Sue Three Federal Agencies Over Alleged ESA Violations

Lawsuit Will Allege Government Agencies Ignored ESA, Loan Approval Process for Massive Chicken Factory Farm


Little Rock, AR — The Animal Legal Defense Fund and the Arkansas Rights Koalition (ARK) sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue letter to the federal Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), for violating the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The suit centers around FSA’s and SBA’s impending decision to issue a million dollar loan guarantee using taxpayer dollars for the construction of the proposed Tracy Poultry Project, composed of six broiler chicken houses, each measuring 43 feet by 600 feet in the pristine Strawberry River Watershed and the rolling hills of the Evening Shade, Arkansas rural community. The area contains seven species listed by FWS as threatened or endangered under the ESA: pink mucket, snuffbox mussel, rabbitsfoot mussel, Missouri bladderpod, gray bat, Indiana bat, and the northern long-eared bat.

The notice alleges multiple violations of the ESA including not adequately identifying endangered or threatened species, not adequately evaluating the potential adverse impact of the Tracy Project, failing to consult with the proper agencies, and failing to use best available science to inform biological assessments of the project. Clearing land for industrial animal agricultural operations destroys or degrades wildlife habitat, can cause erosion and create fertilizer and nutrient runoff into water bodies hereby degrading water quality and causing pollutants to enter aquatic ecosystems and disrupting wildlife. Contaminants associated with industrial animal agriculture operations can be potentially toxic to species.

“The dire impact of factory farms on the environment has already been established. This is not a new frontier,” says Animal Legal Defense Fund Executive Director Stephen Wells. “These agencies are ignoring evidence that poultry operations pose specific risks to wildlife and their environment.”

This industrialized chicken operation is just one of at least 588 chicken houses projected to be constructed in northeast Arkansas to support Alabama-based Peco Foods, Inc.’s new poultry processing facility in nearby Pocahontas. When fully developed, this network of poultry operations could be responsible for emitting more than 700,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually—the equivalent of 147,863 cars driven for one year—significant water and air pollution, and causing untold damage to nearby threatened and endangered species.

ALDF and ARK are represented by Animal Legal Defense Fund Senior Staff Attorney Jessica Blome, Elisabeth Holmes of Blue River Law, P.C. and Sean Malone of the Law Offices of Sean T. Malone both of Eugene, Oregon, and local counsel Ross Noland of Noland Law Firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas.


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