Florida’s Suwannee River is a state ecological treasure, famous for 185 freshwater springs that provide both critical wildlife habitat and water for Florida residents, tourists, and agricultural producers. To help protect this invaluable resource, in 2017 NELC filed suit against Pilgrim’s Pride’s Live Oak, FL, poultry processing facility for illegally dumping hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollution into the river. Brought on behalf of Environment Florida and Sierra Club, our lawsuit alleged that from 2012 to 2017 the company committed 1,377 days of Clean Water Act violations, contributing to toxic algal blooms and dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels in the Suwannee River.

After a court-ordered settlement process, Pilgrim’s Pride, the world’s second largest chicken producer, agreed to pay a $1.43 million penalty, the highest citizen suit penalty in Florida history, and undertake concrete measures to reduce its water pollution. $1.3 million of this penalty payment was used to create a Sustainable Farming Fund, which helps local family farms implement more sustainable agricultural practices designed to improve soil, groundwater, and surface water quality in the Suwannee Basin.