In an atmosphere of intimidation and fear of retaliation, it takes a lot to speak out against powerful chicken corporations. But Perdue contract farmer Rudy Howell is taking a chance and bravely speaking about the lies that Perdue told him and about the harsh reality that chicken farmers face just trying to make ends meet. What they are told when they sign up to become contract farmers doesn’t match reality, and if farmers don’t do exactly what the big chicken companies say, retaliation could very well follow.
I am a contract farmer who’s been growing birds for Perdue for about 20 years. I have gained a lot of knowledge about how the industrial poultry industry functions, but farmers like me don’t have the ability to safely speak up about what we know. These giant companies sell you a dream that someday you will prosper, but that’s not how it works. I contacted the Food Integrity Campaign because I was sick of what was happening to farmers like me and I wanted people to know the truth.
Rudy’s petition corroborates the story of his fellow chicken farmer-turned-whistleblower and FIC client, Craig Watts – who unveiled the extent that Perdue will go to silence truth-tellers. Craig’s whistleblowing revealed Perdue’s deceptive animal welfare labeling as well as how the industry keeps farmers in a cycle of debt. Now, with the Food Integrity Campaign’s help, Craig is suing the company for violating federal whistleblower protection regulations.
As a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver explained, Big Chicken’s efforts to manipulate, control, and silence farmers is a problem across the industry. Craig and Rudy aren’t the only ones experiencing the weight of Big Chicken bullying. But they’ve courageously chosen to take the risk of speaking out and shed light on what’s really going on.
Sign Rudy’s petition today and urge your representatives to protect truth-telling chicken farmers.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager of the Food Integrity Campaign.