Two large poultry processors agreed to guarantee a base payment to the farmers who raise their birds, a fundamental reform of the so-called tournament system that pits growers against each other for income, said the Justice Department on Monday. The reform was part of a proposed consent decree that would order the processors, Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms, plus Cargill Inc to pay $84.8 million in restitution for conspiring to hold down wages paid to processing plant workers.
When Sanderson Farms announced a base pay cut for its growers throughout Mississippi in early August, farmers claimed it was an effort to undercut wages in the wake of a merger between Sanderson and Wayne Farms, another major producer in the state, as Marcia Brown reports in FERN's latest story, produced with The Capitol Forum. (No paywall)
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.