Lawsuit Filed by Poultry Farmers Garners Additional Attention

Recall that a recent update at the BartellPowell blog noted that, “A group of U.S. chicken farmers sued the country’s biggest poultry processors for allegedly conspiring to depress their pay.”

Associated Press writer David Pitt reported yesterday that, “Former chicken farmers in five states have filed a federal lawsuit accusing a handful of giant poultry processing companies that dominate the industry of treating farmers who raise the chickens like indentured servants and colluding to fix prices paid to them.

“The farmers located in Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas allege that the contract grower system created by Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, Koch Foods, and Sanderson Farms pushed them deep into debt to build and maintain chicken barns to meet company demands.”

The AP article explained that, “Under the contract system, farmers provide the barns and labor to raise the chickens and the company provides chicks, feed and expertise to raise birds to slaughter weight.

“The companies named haven’t yet responded to the lawsuit in court, but one denied the allegations.

“‘We want our contract farmers to succeed and don’t consult competitors about how our farmers are paid. These are false claims,’ said Gary Mickelson, a spokesman for Tyson.”

The article added that, “On Tuesday, Tyson Foods said it has been subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission for an investigation it believes is tied to allegations that it violated antitrust laws, issues raised in two other lawsuits. Both of those lawsuits related to alleged price fixing and collusion.”

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