Lawsuits Say Chicken Industry “Cartel” Preyed on Farmers, Consumers, and Investors

The five companies that control more than half the $32 billion poultry-processing industry are already responsible for the miserable lives and slaughter of billions of chickens and are among the largest polluters of U.S. waterways.

Now they have a lot more people upset with them.

Tyson, Pilgrim’s Pride, Perdue Farms, Koch Foods, and Sanderson Farms, several of which have been the subjects of recent Mercy For Animals undercover investigations, have each been named in a series of new class action lawsuits brought by former farmers, customers, and investors. The suits allege that the mega-processors violated federal antitrust laws for years by conspiring to cut labor costs and fix prices, lining their pockets at the expense of consumers, workers, and animals alike.

The latest proposed class action lawsuit, filed this month by five former contract farmers, says that the companies worked together to depress farmers’ pay in order to keep them “debt-laden and subservient.” The farmers report taking home between $12,000 and $40,000 a year, despite working 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week for companies like Tyson that take home more than $3.9 billion in profits a year.

Another series of class actions, filed between last September and October on behalf of the companies’ customers and investors, accuses these same companies of secretly coordinating supply shortages in order to artificially boost poultry prices to record levels. Tyson was subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, signaling that the federal government may now be getting involved as well.

Only a few months ago, the dairy industry paid $52 million to settle a similar class action involving a conspiracy to jack up prices by prematurely slaughtering millions of cows. The egg industry is currently embroiled in similar litigation as well.

The tragic irony is that while these industries are illegally conspiring to inflate prices, they’re also fighting much-needed reform on the pretext of cutting costs. It’s a stark example of how animal agribusiness puts profit above everything else. Instead of defrauding workers, consumers, and investors, industry leaders should join the twenty-first century by adopting meaningful animal welfare, environmental, and labor policies.

You can send a strong message by taking cruelty off your plate. Visit ChooseVeg.com to learn how to move toward a compassionate plant-based diet.
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