The cap says it all – farmers are changing their minds about Big Ag. There was a time when farmers were completely confident in the maneuverings of this administration. But now, farmers are demanding a complete overhaul of the Big Ag system. Food Integrity Campaign calls the farmers who demand more the “Growing Resistance.”
Most chicken and many pork operations use contract growing, a model whereby companies control all of the inputs, including the food and animals. The farmers who “grow” the animals for the company are paid a pittance for the flock yield. Contract farmers have little to no say about how their operations are run, and it’s especially risky for them to speak out when they have concerns.
Fortunately, some brave farmer whistleblowers have come forward to expose Big Ag’s deceptive and retaliatory practices. But without regulatory safeguards from Trump’s administration, it is unlikely that companies will stop their exploitative business practices or allow farmers to safely speak out against wrongdoing.Full 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 »
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 »
You can download the court documents by clicking on the following PDF links.Complaint – Craig Watts vs. Perdue Farms Complaint- Triple R Ranch, LLC, and Eric Hedrick vs. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation Watts Amicus by FDA on FDA Jurisdiction Watts’ Amicus RAFI et al on FDA Jurisdiction Complaint – Rudy Howell vs. Perdue Farms
🐓 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.
Public pressure is going to change this system. Farmers and the government aren’t going to be able to make the changes on their own. The only way is for the public to apply the pressure.—–CRAIG WATTS, Contract Grower and FIC Client