Tyson, Perdue to pay $35M to settle with chicken farmers

Thursday, September 9, 2021

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Two of the industry’s biggest poultry companies have agreed to pay nearly $35 million to settle a lawsuit that accused them and several other firms of conspiring to dominate the industry and fix the prices paid to farmers who raise the chickens.

Tyson Foods and Perdue Farms agreed to the settlements last week without admitting any wrongdoing while the lawsuit remains pending against several other industry giants, including Pilgrim’s Pride, Koch Foods and Sanderson Farms.

The lawsuit that Alabama farmers filed in Oklahoma federal court alleges that the contract grower system the meat companies created pushed them deep into debt to build and maintain chicken barns that met company standards.

They also said the companies colluded to fix farmer compensation at low levels to boost corporate profits, making it difficult for the farmers to survive financially. Generally, chicken producers enter long-term contracts with meat companies that farmers say lock them into deals that fix their compensation at unprofitably low levels.

The farmers who sued reported earning between $12,000 and $40,000 a year while working 12-to-16-hour days all year long while major meat companies like Tyson and Pilgrim’s were reporting annual profits over $1 billion.

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