Is the U.S. chicken industry cheating its farmers?

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 with the Guardian, there’s a way for poultry companies to insure 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) (No paywall)

With Costco chicken plant set to open, Nebraskans want more oversight of poultry farms

The arrival of a Costco chicken processing plant in Fremont, Nebraska, spurred the introduction of the state’s first industrial chicken farms in 2018. With the plant set to begin operations after Labor Day, some residents are pushing for stronger — or any — oversight of large poultry farms in the state.(No paywall)

Justice Dept. intervenes in major poultry price-fixing case

The Department of Justice intervened Friday in a landmark price-fixing suit against the country’s biggest poultry companies, possibly signaling that its own grand jury investigation into the chicken sector could result in criminal indictments. The DOJ asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to stop discovery in the class-action lawsuit brought by food distributor Maplevale Farm, saying in its motion that “a limited stay is needed to protect the grand jury’s investigation.”

Trump, Congress make it harder for CAFO neighbors to know what they’re inhaling

Recent actions by the GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration have exempted big livestock operations from reporting air emissions, according to the latest story from FERN, published with Mother Jones. (No paywall)

The future looks grim for the industrial egg

California's Prop 12, which prohibits the sale of eggs in the state from chickens housed in battery cages, along with the arrival of the first viable egg substitutes, amounts to a one-two punch that could mark the beginning of the end of the industrial egg, writes Rowan Jacobsen in FERN's latest story, published with New Food Economy. (No paywall)

DoJ’s stance on California egg law could bode well for other states

In a surprising amicus brief, the Justice Department last week recommended that the Supreme Court not hear Missouri’s challenge to California’s animal-welfare laws, which mandate larger cages for some farm animals. The stance could bode well for animal-welfare advocates fighting for similar legislation in other states.

Florence aftermath: Lower chicken production for a top processor

The third-largest U.S. poultry processor lost at least 8 percent of its chickens in North Carolina due to flooding from Hurricane Florence, and expects lower meat production through December as a result. Sanderson Farms was the first meat processor to announce livestock losses: 1.7 million chickens.

After Tyson pushback, Kansas considers local control

Last fall, a small community in northeast Kansas made headlines when thousands of residents protested the announcement that a Tyson poultry processing plant would soon be built nearby. Once the residents of Tonganoxie won their “No Tyson in Tongie” campaign, other communities followed suit. Now, state lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make it easier for communities to vote on whether to introduce new poultry processing facilities or large-scale farms in their communities, reports High Plains Public Radio.

USDA will allow more poultry plants to run at faster line speeds

Poultry processors will soon be able to ask the USDA’s meat safety agency for permission to run slaughter lines at up to 175 birds per minute, an increase from the current limit of 140 birds.

Lawsuit challenges rehab labor in chicken plants

A class-action lawsuit in Arkansas challenges as unconstitutional two drug- and alcohol-rehabilitation programs that require participants to work for free at chicken processing plants and a plastic manufacturing plant, reports Reveal, from the Center from Investigative Reporting. The programs are populated by defendants who are sent to rehab as an alternative to imprisonment.