Making a living as a chicken farmer has never been easy. But today in the U.S., it has more than a whiff of indentured servitude. A handful of big companies control the market, and farmers raise chickens under contract, with very little control over the things they need to be successful, from feed and stock to the birds’ healthcare.
Now, as Leah Douglas and Chris Leonard explain in FERN’s latest investigation, produced in collaboration with The Guardian, there’s a way for poultry companies to ensure tight market control. Based on leaked documents, the report shows how “[t]he U.S. poultry industry is able to share highly detailed information on farmer pay … giving companies the potential to collude and suppress prices paid to farmers already struggling to keep themselves afloat on razor-thin margins.” (No paywall)