There’s a trial going on down in federal court in Tulsa that seems to have everything going for it.  Colorful expert testimony, a determined state attorney general, and some of the nation’s top food companies who appear determined to come across as just good old boys.

Robert J. Smith, who writes for the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, has been doing an excellent job of covering the proceedings that pit Arkansas’ economic interests against Oklahoma’s campaign to clean up the Illinois River.  At issue is how high Salmonella and campylobacter bacteria levels  will be allowed in the Illinois River.

And the good old boys?  Oh, they are the defendants and our friends at Tyson Foods of Springdale; Simmons Foods of Siloam Springs; Cargill of Minneapolis; Cobb-Vantress of Siloam Springs; George’s of Springdale; Peterson Farms of Decatur; Willow Brook Foods of Springfield, Mo.; and Cal-Maine Foods of Jackson, Miss.

They’ve all been sued by Oklahoma’s Attorney General Drew Edmondson.  Smith explains:

Oklahoma contends people are at risk in the watershed, which includes portions of eastern Oklahoma and Northwest Arkansas, because they spend time in the river and drink from wells. Sections of the 99-mile-long river in Oklahoma are popular for swimming, canoeing and fishing.

Oklahoma blames the poultry companies for bacteria found in water, soil and litter samples, saying the litter threatens human health because it leaches from fields where it’s spread.

Experts have clashed over how high or low the risk to the river from the Arkansas poultry industry.

Smith’s weekend wrap up can be found here.