In this blog post, Sally Lee of Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) delves into the chicken industry’s power politics — which, not surprisingly, benefit very few and oppress farmers.
* “Ninety-seven percent of the chicken we eat is produced by a farmer under contract with a big chicken company. These chicken farmers are the last independent link in an otherwise completely vertically integrated, company-owned supply chain.”
* “Vertical integration is a term used by economists to describe the scenario where a company owns every link of a product’s supply chain from start to finish. So rather than buying feed produced by another business, big chicken companies own their own feed mills. Rather than contracting with an independent slaughter house, big chicken companies own their own processing and slaughter facilities. This pattern applies to almost every link in the supply chain: except the farms.”
* “Corporate concentration is out of control in the U.S. poultry industry. Just four companies control roughly 60% of the U.S. poultry market: Tyson, Perdue, Sanderson Farms and Pilgrim’s Pride.”
* “For farmers, this means that in any given area they may have only one or two companies to choose from to raise chickens. Without competition, companies can take advantage of farmers by forcing them to accept unfavorable contract terms like expensive upgrades, low pay, and extreme secrecy disguised as confidentiality and biosecurity policies.
Example of a nasty contract clause forced on farmers by Pilgrim’s Pride.
For more information, watch the documentary “Under Contract”.