Poultry Industry Takes Attorney General to Task

Representatives of the poultry industry have blasted Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, calling his latest campaign ad “grossly irresponsible” and “blatantly untrue.”
“One month ago, our industry decided to stop running educational ads that specifically mentioned the Attorney General until after the Nov. 7 election,” said Mark Simmons, a spokesman for the companies being sued by Edmondson. “We did this because our goal is not political; we simply want to educate the public about our industry’s environmental efforts.
“However, Mr. Edmondson’s new TV ads confirm what we have said all along – that his lawsuit against our industry is about two things: trial lawyer money and re-election. While he has continually denied that his actions are about politics, he has taken this issue and stretched the facts beyond recognition – all in the name of political gain.
“Mr. Edmondson’s grossly irresponsible characterization of our industry is a slap in the face to every Oklahoma farmer. We cannot stand on the sidelines while Mr. Edmondson uses his campaign pulpit to make false statements about the hard-working people in the poultry business.”
In one of the ads, Edmondson calls Oklahoma farms “dump fields” and said poultry farmers are using rivers as “open sewers.”
“This is absurd,” Simmons said. “Such outrageous statements simply defy logic. Mr. Edmonson knows the Oklahoma Commissioner of Agriculture has said on more than one occasion since this lawsuit was filed that the poultry farmers are not breaking the law. He’s also aware that both the Arkansas-Oklahoma River Compact Commission and the United States Geological Survey have both completed studies that show water quality improvements in the Illinois River. However, Mr. Edmondson apparently does not want to let facts get in the way of a good campaign ad.
“This Attorney General has stifled progress at every juncture just to keep his lawsuit alive,” Simmons said. “There are media reports circulating that he has all but shut down the Arkansas-Oklahoma River Compact Commission because the results were too favorable. He also tried to stop the poultry industry’s donation of more than $1 million to the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission for improvements in the Illinois River.”
The Commission accepted the gift last year, despite the Attorney General’s objections, and is expending the money on a number of important conservation projects.
“Mr. Edmondson can point fingers and place blame, but the science speaks for itself,” Simmons said. “While he continues his political stumping and works with his out-of-state trial lawyers to shut down eastern Oklahoma agriculture, the people along the river are helping improve the quality of the water.”
Depositions being taken this week and next week in West Siloam Springs, OK, are further evidence of Edmondson’s intimidation tactics, Simmons said.
“Two Oklahoma farmers who have spoken out against Edmondson and appeared in poultry education ads have come under attack by Mr. Edmondson’s office,” Simmons said. “They have been served subpoenas trying to force them to turn over copies of deeds, tax returns and other documents unrelated to the water quality issue. Mr. Edmondson’s intention is to drag these hard-working folks into a room so his trial lawyers can work them over.
“Mr. Edmondson claims he is not after the farmers, but just ask these two folks what they think about Mr. Edmondson’s intimidation tactics. He apparently doesn’t care who he hurts or how many people he puts out of work, in order to satisfy his vendetta against agriculture.
“Even while asking Oklahomans for his confidence, Mr. Edmondson continues to make comments that are blatantly untrue. We’re confident we will be vindicated in court. Until then, the Attorney General has left us no choice but to continue correcting his false claims.”

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