Farm Action condemned the inherent unfairness of the tournament system in comments submitted today to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Any ranking system that lacks a fixed base price is by definition unfair, Farm Action stated, and therefore violates the ban on unfair practices within the Packers and Stockyard Act (P&S Act).
While the organization applauded transparency measures the USDA is currently considering, no amount of transparency could counteract the power imbalance that characterizes the tournament system. The structure of this system grossly favors corporations over chicken producers, and provides an easy and discreet avenue to retaliate against those who do not comply with their demands.
“Unfairness is at the rotten heart of the tournament system, which punishes farmers for circumstances that only the corporations control,” said Sarah Carden of Farm Action. “Until farmers can confidently earn a fixed base price in exchange for raising chickens, our poultry production systems will be in violation of the Packers and Stockyards Act.”
Farm Action urged swift action to end the tournament system as it operates today, as this issue impacts a significant number of U.S. poultry farmers. Tournaments are a commonplace mechanism within the contract poultry growing system, which in turn is how almost all of the chicken in the U.S. is produced.
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