A small but mighty group of people in Accomack County, Virgina recently held a press conference- led by Mighty Earth Eastern Shore- to discuss “Clean It Up Tyson,” a nationwide campaign which seeks to inspire Tyson Foods, the country’s largest meat producer, to address ongoing water issues. And at the exact same time, Tyson was holding their annual shareholder’s meeting where they discussed voting to adopt a water stewardship policy nationwide.
(The video below is from November 2017.)
You see, people are concerned about the impact the “influx of chicken plants popping up”1 in the county will have on their water. And that makes sense because all life needs water to grow, sustain and thrive.
And it’s not like they are asking for the moon. The plan, according to small business owner David Fick, is simple:
“…they need to come with a method in reducing nitrate contribution to the water and there are ways to do this and they actually claim in their response that they’re already doing it. So I don’t see why they don’t agree other than, we are also asking for timelines and specific commitments that are measurable to reduce their nitrate contribution to the water.”2
At issue for the supporters of “Clean It Up Tyson” is the potential expansion of 250 chicken houses in the county. People are worried about the impact on agriculture and tourism but they are also concerned about their water. Fick says, “Well there’s tremendous growth and with that growth comes runoff of chicken waste and nutrients out of the chicken process and what that does increases the load on our streams in such a way that we can’t grow oysters anymore.” 3
But Tyson feels differently (which should come as no surprise) and voted down the idea of creating additional water stewardship policies:
“We understand the importance of water stewardship, and the Company has implemented a wide range of initiatives to reduce risks of water contamination. The Company’s present policies, procedures, and plans appropriately and adequately address the concerns raised in the proposal and the adoption of another policy is unnecessary and duplicative.”4
I may be way off but it seems that Tyson doesn’t actually care about anything but their bottom line. It appears that they don’t care about the environment or the people living near their “farms.” But the good news is you can use your wallet to let them know how you feel!