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Tell Congress to protect family farmers from big business bullying

This petition had 99,981 supporters

I am a contract farmer who’s been growing birds for Perdue for about 20 years. I have gained a lot of knowledge about how the industrial poultry industry functions, but farmers like me don’t have the ability to safely speak up about what we know. These giant companies sell you a dream that someday you will prosper, but that’s not how it works. I contacted the Food Integrity Campaign because I was sick of what was happening to farmers like me and I wanted people to know the truth. Please sign my petition telling Congress not to block the necessary measures to protect farmers like myself from retaliation for speaking up when we see problems in our industry.

I’m taking a big risk coming forward about the poultry farming industry. But recently, companies like Perdue, Tyson, Pilgrim’s, and Sanderson Farm were called out by the television show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, and I knew it was time for me to speak. John Oliver showed all of America how these corporations engage in many practices to make it more difficult for contract farmers to get ahead in the business, such as intentionally overcrowding sheds with too many birds.

I have a library of information that relates to the company’s abuses, but when we do voice our problems, we can’t get a straight answer out of anyone in management. Instead we have to talk to the local company representatives, who never manage to address our concerns.

One of the most unfair practices in the chicken business is the tournament system. A reporter for Politico explained how “some chicken growers have had problems with the way big poultry processing and other meatpacking companies force them to compete in a tournament system, in which farmers who produce the most pounds of chicken receive bigger payments, while those who produce less are punished with reduced fees.”

Poultry farmers can barely survive -- living life at or below the poverty line. This system leaves many of us with no way out and too afraid of retaliation to publicly challenge the system.

The growers get no say in what goes on even though we are the ones who do the majority of the work to produce the company’s product.

Chicken companies like to use the growers to test out new practices. They just throw stuff at the wall and see if it sticks -- all at a cost to the farmer (and animals and the environment).

It’s not just unfair practices with the system that farmers want to talk about, but it’s also things that affect consumers – things like animal welfare and food safety. It’s astonishing that well-intentioned farmers are facing harassment, but it happens all the time. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough of a platform to compete with billion dollar poultry companies lobbying Congress.

The USDA’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA) can fix this, but the problem is the poultry industry has so much power and money that they keep lobbying Congress to block measures that would protect farmers who speak out. I think the industry has been given too much authority and it’s time to stop playing politics with farmers’ lives!

Please sign my petition asking Congress to allow GIPSA to hold the poultry industry accountable for fair conditions in how farmers are treated. We should not live in fear of retaliation for speaking up when we try to improve the food system.

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