Brunswick Beacon, 09.01.22
As Chairman of the House Agriculture Livestock Subcommittee in 2016, David Rouzer blocked the Farmer Fair Practices Rules. When Agriculture Secretary Vilsack proposed them again this January, Rouzer said “I want to push back on these new rules as strongly as I possibly can.” Now we know what Rouzer’s obstruction cost local farmers.
Poultry is North Carolina’s top agricultural industry, generating $40 billion annually from over 5,700 farms, many in our district. Five companies control America’s poultry industry. They offload the risk to family farmers, and skim the profit for themselves. You can watch an in-depth explanation of how they rig the system against farmers on YouTube at “Chickens: John Oliver”. The problem is that chicken farmers don’t own the chickens! The five companies, called “integrators”, do. They deliver hatchlings to farmers who grow them on consignment.
Integrators determine how they’re raised, require farmers to buy feed from them, and collect fully-grown chickens. Then they pit farmers against each other in a “tournament system”, paying them different amounts based on a ranking system they control.
Thanks to the Justice Department’s antitrust lawsuit and consent decree filed July 25, we now know that those companies broke the law by failing to disclose crucial information farmers needed to assess financial risk, like the number, breed, and age of chicks a farmer could expect to receive. The companies conspired for years to drive down employee compensation at poultry processing plants. The companies agreed to repay $84.8 million in lost earnings to their victims and end the tournament system’s deceptive practices.
The Farmer Fair Practice Rules Rouzer blocked would have protected farmers by ending those deceptive practices years ago. Instead, Rouzer protected the integrators, whose lobby, the National Chicken Council, is among his top donors.
Charles Graham will protect local farmers, not the poultry monopoly. Let’s send Graham to Congress.