Currently, only a handful of corporations control our food from farm to fork. Over the past 50 years, fewer and fewer multinational agribusiness corporations have come to control more and more of our food system, shutting out local and family farmers in the process. With unchecked power, companies have standardized exploitative practices that are harmful to farmers, to rural communities, to the animals themselves and to our environment.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Click to the “Full Story” to learn more about how FIC is working to hold Big Ag corporations accountable!Full Story
Long-time Perdue poultry farmer has alleged he was wrongfully discharged for raising concerns about Perdue’s practices. Read his full complaint here (link). Rudy originally reached out to GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign because he was sick of watching the big chicken companies deceptively trap farmers like him into a business that makes it near impossible to stay afloat, and then punish farmers if they don’t do exactly what they’re told.Rudy’s Story »
Humble and unassuming, former contract poultry grower Craig Watts didn’t set out to be the plaintiff in an historic whistleblower lawsuit or to be the star of documentaries, news interviews, and articles. However, in 2014 he was thrust into the spotlight and forced into action when he allowed a nonprofit to film the conditions of his chicken flocks. Watts had enough with industrial farming and spoke his truth.Craig’s Story »
Eric Hedrick was once the largest Pilgrim’s Pride poultry grower in West Virginia. He has also been an outspoken opponent of contract growing and an advocate for GIPSA reform. Consequently, he has become the target of retaliation. Eric likens poultry growing to a “lifetime of servitude.” He describes a perilous situation where few growers are […]Eric’s Story »
Trina McClendon is the co-founder and owner of Trinity Poultry Farm, LLC in Southwest Mississippi. In 2003, Trina and her late husband, Rusty McClendon, built a commercial poultry operation and started full-time in the agriculture industry. Over the past 19 years, Trina has consistently ranked as one of the top poultry growers in her region of […]Trina’s Story »
You can download the court documents by clicking on the following PDF links.Complaint – Rudy Howell vs. Perdue Farms Complaint- Triple R Ranch, LLC, and Eric Hedrick vs. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation Complaint – Craig Watts vs. Perdue Farms Watts Amicus by FDA on FDA Jurisdiction Watts’ Amicus RAFI et al on FDA Jurisdiction
Rudy Howell was a chicken farmer for 27 years. But he became a whistleblower when he decided to tell people the truth about how their food is raised, and what is really happening to the farmers that raise it.
Rudy became concerned that his company was being dishonest with farmers’ pay. He also witnessed animal welfare issues and unsanitary practices. After years of contacting management and having his concerns ignored, Rudy was fed up. In 2020, Rudy turned to the public. He let a group of visitors tour his barns to see for themselves what chicken production was really like. A few days later, he got a notice that his contract was terminated. After 27 years, of breaking his back to make ends meet while the company made billions in profit, they terminated his contract just like that.
It’s time for a change in agriculture in this country. Farmers deserve a fair shake. We need to level the playing field with the big corporations.
Food Whistleblowers are in the best position to warn of threats…
The first panel of the FIC10 conference was titled, “Overcoming Legal Barriers to Truth-Telling.” The panel featured litigation experts who venerated whistleblowers and their special ability to protect the integrity of our food system. Paul Levy from Public Citizen noted that seeking legal advice early offers the best chance to protect whistleblowers from retaliation and allow their voices to be heard.
During the FIC10 Conference panel, “Underrepresented Truth,” former dairy farmworker Crispin Hernandez described his immigration to the U.S. and how he became a low-wage worker. Due to a lack of training and access to proper medical attention, he suffered lifetime injuries while working in industrial animal agriculture. His story is one few consumers hear.
Fellow panelist and Crystal Coast Waterkeeper, Larry Baldwin, likewise shared his stories of underrepresented truth. He discussed his work advocating for environmental justice in North Carolina, where community organizers shed light on how industrial hog waste from CAFO’s are destroying surrounding communities.
Thankfully, both Hernandez and Baldwin also relayed how successful litigation has advanced their causes.
🐓 Contract growers (a.k.a. industrial poultry farmers) and their advocates spoke out on the FIC10 Conference panel titled “Growing Resistance.” They described just how far the poultry industry will go to keep farmers silent about unfair practices. Contract poultry begins with the promise of a better future, commences with exploitative lending, fails to meet even moderate expectations of fairness, remains unchecked through the use of corporate bullying and the threat of retaliation, and culminates in the decimation of rural communities.
“Farmers are paying the price for corporate efficiency,” concluded Tyler Whitley of Rural Advancement Foundation International. Other panelists included moderator Steve Etka of Etka Consulting; Rudy Howell, Perdue contract farmer for 25 years and advocate for farmers who wish to improve the system; Carlton Sanders, former Contract Poultry Grower; and Mike Weaver, a former contract poultry grower who raised birds for Pilgrim’s Pride for 16 years.
Once you sign your contact, the company won’t let you just be a farmer. They control everything on your farm. I don’t want to do anything that harms my neighbors, or the environment. Even if I wanted to, I can’t change their rigged system.—- Rudy Howell, Former poultry farmer