How the Chicken Industry is Enslaving its Farmers


I recently watched a John Oliver sketch about the way in which chicken production companies treat the farmers who raise their chickens.  It focused less on how the chickens themselves are treated, which is definitely a problem in this country, but more on the way that the farmers themselves are handled.  Oliver emphasizes the ridiculousness of how much power giant companies like Tyson and Perdue wields over its employees.  They use various scare tactics to keep farmers from speaking out about the ridiculous ranking systems the companies use to decide who gets pay cuts, lower quality chickens, and sometimes even their farms and houses taken away from them.  Laws have been passed to help these farmers to be able to speak out without being penalized, but then the companies turn right around and write bylaws in their contract that prevent these laws from being enforced.   Many of these farmers are living at or below the poverty line and their entire lives are controlled by these companies.  Each year companies will up the requirements and standards for their farms and farmers are expected to pay for the upgrades themselves, which many times is nearly impossible.  This reminded me of the farmers from King Corn who barely make money off their crops are really don’t actually make money from the corn, but rather live on government payments, which barely keep them afloat.  They don’t really own any of their own crops and the only way they can make money is to work for the government.  I think that really helps outline how food production has changed radically in our country, and how we are mostly completely ignorant about the ways in which our food gets to us, how affects the people and animals that are part of that process, and what is even in our food.


One thought on “How the Chicken Industry is Enslaving its Farmers”

  1. I think any industry that is focused around the slaughter of animals needs to be under strict surveillance, which it never is. And believe me I am just as bad with my demands and wanting them to be met, whether its with chicken, pork, or beef. These farmers are completely dependent on the companies they have contracts with, and its two very different fields going into business versus working with your hands everyday. Both deserve tons of credit but most commonly employ completely different types of people. As consumers we are forcing these opposite sides of the spectrum to collaborate. But as we can see human nature is exploitative whether that be targeted at “lower” species or even ourselves who have less money in our pockets. Farms should be focused more so around serving its population with products they can be proud of. Whereas, businesses are trying to make a buck the fastest and easiest way possible. In my opinion at least these farmers have a farm still, because big businesses shut down all the home run ones. And a little money is better than no money at all.


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