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Is the US Chicken Industry Cheating Its Farmers?

Leaked documents reveal remarkable power US poultry industry holds over farmers struggling to stay afloat on thin margins

Poultry firms in the US have access to detailed information about farmers’ pay that gives them extraordinary power over suppliers when negotiating the terms of their contracts, leaked documents have shown.

A report for poultry companies produced by a secretive data-sharing firm, reviewed in a joint investigation by the Guardian and the Food and Environment Reporting Network (Fern), shows sensitive market information including how much producers are being paid per chicken.

US anti-trust officials are currently conducting a grand jury investigation into poultry companies in response to a major class-action lawsuit alleging that the firms use information supplied by Agri Stats, a data company, to keep farmers’ pay low and chicken prices high.

Agri Stats produces daily reports for the poultry industry on chicken production, and has enabled companies to share detailed financial information with one another for decades.

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