Farmers, lured by the promise of an easy, steady paycheck by raising chickens are told if they just keep the birds healthy, industrial poultry processors will take care of the rest.
As The Texas Observer reports, however, after growers sign an exclusive contract to build several 24,000-square-foot chicken houses, the companies that process the poultry sometimes require expensive improvements be made to the chicken houses that many growers can’t afford.
Tyson, Sanderson Farms and Pilgrim’s Pride are the three major industrial chicken players with operations in Texas and all three companies have been accused of mistreating farmers by employing tactics that push growers into a cycle of debt and bankruptcy.
The USDA’s Farmer Fair Practice Rule, meant to protect growers from those tactics, was set to go into effect last month, but the USDA opted to kill the rule.
Growers can still file suit against the companies but in order for a lawsuit to go forward, plaintiffs must prove that unfair practices are occurring industry-wide.