"We congratulate the Hudsons on their long-overdue exoneration. We are also pleased that the judge upheld existing law that safeguards the contractor relationship and confirms the independence of thousands of family farms who choose to raise poultry and livestock," spokeswoman Julie DeYoung said in a statement.
Waterkeeper alleged during a non-jury trial that chicken litter was being discharged from the farm into a tributary of the Pocomoke River, spread either by ventilation fans in the chicken houses or the shoes of people who come in and out of the houses.
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 said the chicken manure wasn't getting out in great enough amounts to pollute, and Hudson testified that he took steps to avoid pollution and to keep the manure in the houses.