Advocacy Group Sues Agencies Over CAFO Approval
Food & Water Watch has filed a lawsuit against the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Farm Service Agency
seeking vacatur of agency decisions that guaranteed loans and
allowed construction of a concentrated animal feeding operation
(CAFO) in the Choptank River watershed on Maryland’s Eastern
Shore. Food & Water Watch v. United States Dep’t of Agric., No.
17-1714 (D.D.C., filed August 23, 2017). The CAFO is located
upstream from the Chesapeake Bay, where the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency and surrounding states have
undertaken extensive agricultural pollution cleanup efforts.
Among other allegations, the complaint asserts that USDA’s
environmental assessment found that the CAFO’s density would
conform to industry standards but that the actual density is nearly
double those standards, resulting in higher-than-average waste
concentration, air and water pollution.
The plaintiff argues that the agencies (i) failed to consider
adequate alternatives; (ii) failed to address biological resources,
groundwater, surface water or air quality; (iii) improperly relied
on proposed mitigation measures; (iv) failed to consider the
cumulative impacts of the CAFO; and (v) improperly made a
finding of no significant environmental impact. In addition to
seeking vacatur, the plaintiff also seeks injunctive and declarative