Oct 19, 2010
I am a contract poultry farmer, have grown turkeys for 12 years before converting over to broiler chickens, and have been in broiler production for 11 years. I have grown poultry for three different company names due to buy outs. These companies have always treated contract growers as no more than hired labor. Pilgrim's Pride, the company I grow for at this time filed Chapter 13 bankruptcy about 1 1/2 years ago. They cut our contract pay at that time in attempt to pay themselves out of bankruptcy. Since that time they became more fluid and a Brazilian company by the name of JBS bought 64% of Pilgrim's Pride.
I went through a new update phase about four years ago, adding more tunnel fans and cool cells to appease the companies wants. This did not change my ability to grow the same chicken as before the upgrades were made, but only at a higher cost to me. This did not help the company produce a better chicken at a lower cost, but only increased the cost for electricity to the grower.
You have spoken against the new GIPSA regulations, until you have been in a contract poultry growers business situation, a person honestly has no idea of what these integrators do to possess control. When you keep a person in debt, he is much easier to manipulate. I need you to study the regulations very closely, when you do, you will see there is nothing an honest business person should have to fear, other than fear itself. These regulations will level the playing field for contract growers, something that has never been allowed in all my growing years. When programs such as yours advocate for the farmer, you should be behind anything that would promote fairness in dealings between large meat producing companies and the small family farmer.