Chicken Processing Plants, Chicken Farmers and Workers Rigts: Good, Bad and Very EVIL!

How did our county get picked for Chicken Mess:

Please email the Governor McAuliffe and Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore: and give him the facts that Factory Farming called Chicken Processing Plants has called an increase crime, inhuman treatment of humans and animals.  Plus has ruin water, air, land in all factory farming, facts are listed below. 

This is not a good fit for our county, we really need to study another way of farming called: Sustainable agriculture:  In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare. 

The announcement from the following about factory farming:
Governor McAuliffe Awards Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund Planning Grants to Communities in Central and Southern Virginia
        Latest Round of AFID Planning Grants Furthers Two Local Food Projects, Supports County Effort to Grow Poultry Industry in the State
          RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced that three projects - two to make locally grown produce available year round and one seeking to bring a major poultry producer to Southside Virginia - were awarded $60,000 in planning grants from the Governor’s Agriculture & Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). The AFID planning grant program encourages local governments to work with the agricultural community to identify projects and opportunities that can bring important benefits to local producers, and the community as a whole
      Applications for AFID planning grants are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the fiscal year. Successful funding requests must show a clear need to be addressed, a solution to be undertaken, demonstrate strong support from local government and the agriculture and forestry community, and be able to match each dollar requested with a dollar of local government funds, or allowable in-kind contributions. Localities interested in applying may visit or contact Stephen Versen at or 804.786.6911 for more information. 
wholesome food could be available year round for consumption by the local community.
  1. Project Title: Integrated Poultry Industry Feasibility Study
Applicant:      Pittsylvania County
Award:           $10,000
Summary:      To conduct an in-depth and independent feasibility study focused on attracting integrated poultry companies to Pittsylvania County.  The study will inventory which companies are considering expanding, how and where a poultry complex could be located, which attributes of an area are attractive to poultry companies, and how the county can enhance its profile and marketing strategies to lobby these poultry companies.  This feasibility study and the data it produces will be utilized to develop promotional pieces and to assist the county in the manner best suited to invite an integrator to Southern Virginia.

Problems with Factory Farming:  Chicken Processing Plants

Family-run broiler operations are usually part of diversified farms that are often supplemented by non-farm income. Growing chickens is not usually considered a full-time job, and few families expect to earn their total income from poultry. A typical farm will gross about $50,000 to $75,000 per year from poultry ($25,000 per chicken house).

House of Raeford’s decision is the latest example of how the high price of corn – the main ingredient in chicken and turkey feed – is eroding profits in one of the state’s largest industries



Stories from the field: SPLC helps poultry workers stand up for their rights

By Kristin Donovan
Poultry processing is among the most grueling jobs I have come across in my two-and-a-half years as an outreach paralegal with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project.
Workers on the processing line stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a knife in hand, cutting and ripping chicken carcasses that fly by at breakneck speed. For many, it is a dehumanizing experience.
Workers who rest their aching hands suffer the invective of line supervisors charged with pushing workers beyond their physical limits. Expected to perform as machines, these workers are often denied bathroom breaks. It’s not uncommon for poultry workers to soil themselves as they work.
Beatriz Navedo is one of the many poultry workers who helped me understand the human cost of this industry that helps feed a nation. She was recruited from Puerto Rico by a staffing agency to debone chicken carcasses at a Wayne Farms processing plant in Enterprise, Alabama.
Beatriz Navedo
Beatriz Navedo

When I first met her in January, she had been at Wayne Farms for little more than six months. Though she was still new to the job, the work had already taken a toll on her body: Her hands were swollen from overuse. Her movements were slow and deliberate – the result of a hernia aggravated by the demands the job inflicted on her body day in and day out.
But Beatriz endured and worked through the pain for months, only occasionally missing work to visit her doctor or rest her aching body. Sitting in a dark, sparsely furnished apartment, she sighed as she recounted the optimism she felt when she first came to the United States. Her dreams quickly faded as her medical bills began to mount.
With each medical absence, Beatriz moved one step closer to losing her job. Wayne Farms, like many poultry processing companies, gives workers a point each time they miss work, with just a few limited exceptions. Workers are automatically fired once they reach 10 points.
When Beatriz suffered a heart attack while working the processing line, the plant made her daughter, also a plant employee, drive her to the hospital rather than call an ambulance. Both Beatriz and her daughter received a point. At Wayne Farms, even a heart attack is not a valid excuse for missing work. Beatriz was eventually fired because of her medical absences.
In April, the SPLC helped Beatriz file a complaint with the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against the company for unlawfully retaliating against her for seeking medical treatment. She also joined a larger group of workers in filing another OSHA complaint detailing the fast work speeds and other dangerous work conditions within the plant.
Since news of the complaints broke, I have received call after call from desperate workers seeking justice. The details of their stories vary, but the message is the same: Poultry plant workers are suffering.
At times, it has been hard not to feel overwhelmed by the great injustices poultry workers face in Enterprise and throughout the country. But I have also been inspired by the workers’ resilience. Beatriz and her co-workers were drowning in medical debt and struggling to get by, but they were determined to stand up for their rights.
The deck is stacked against poultry workers. The nature of their work – performing the same rapid movements thousands of times per day – almost guarantees injury. But poultry plants, as much as they demand that their workers perform at this relentless pace, do not want injured workers on their payrolls. They have implemented a system to ensure that workers are terminated – thrown away – once their disabilities become too severe.
Courageous workers such as Beatriz are fighting to change this system.

Poultry plant under fire over work environment

HAZLEHURST, Miss. (AP) — A union representing workers at a Sanderson Farms chicken-processing plant contends the company has created an unsafe, racially-insensitive work environment at the facility.
The Clarion-Ledger reports ( ) officials with Collins-based Laborers International Union of North America Local 693 are calling on the Laurel-based poultry producer to create safer working conditions at the plant and to treat its workers with more respect.
"(Sanderson Farms) has more pride in their product than they do their people," said Sherri Jones, a field representative for the union. "This is 2012, and things need to change."
Jones and others told reporters Friday that employees work in an environment where indoor temperatures can top 100 degrees during the summer without adequate air conditioning and there aren't enough water or bathroom breaks.
There was no air. It was hot. It was nasty," said Chris Jefferson, who worked at the plant for four years before being fired, he says, for confronting a supervisor over working conditions.
"They never sprayed down anything. I would almost pass out," the Hazlehurst resident said.
The company refused comment on the accusations, including claims that a white supervisor told a black employee that the plant's workers were considered "slaves."
The plant employs about 700 people, but Jones said not all are union members.
Organizers of Friday's news conference displayed several photographs of what they described as cut arms and calloused, swollen hands of workers who suffer "repetitive-motion" injuries on the job while cutting and processing as many as 200,000 chickens per day.
The fast-paced production means workers are prone to injury and can't work as effectively, said Tennie White, an environmental consultant for the Coalition of Communities for Environmental Justice, a Hattiesburg nonprofit network that addresses various social issues.
"Put more people on the line if you're going to process 200,000 chickens," she said.
Information from: The Clarion-Ledger,

This Year, Have a Big-Poultry-Free Holiday Season

By Wenonah Hauter
This post originally appeared at

Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch
Chicken and turkey are among the most popular and versatile foods Americans eat, but they also bring health risks to your plate.
Most factory-farmed poultry is raised with antibiotics — which leads to antibiotic resistance in humans.
Now, the USDA wants to cut the budget for poultry inspections and allow big chicken companies to police themselves. The agency also moved recently to approve imports of processed chicken from China — a country that has had major food safety debacles.
This holiday season, will the poultry you sit down to enjoy be industrially produced, processed half a world away, and full of chemicals, antibiotics, and worse?
Since there are no guarantees, you may want to avoid buying poultry produced by the companies that dominate the industry. There are big reasons to avoid their chicken and turkey.
JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride, Tyson Foods, Perdue, and Sanderson slaughter and process more than half of the chicken consumed in the United States, while Butterball, Jennie-O Turkey Store, and Cargill dominate the turkey business. Their outsized operations give them significant market and lobbying power. These companies act as middlemen between farmers and consumers, and they eat up most of the profit in the supply chain.
Before you purchase the holiday turkey you’ll share with your loved ones in a few weeks, consider these four facts:

  1. Because there are just a handful of players in the poultry market, a handful of companies call the shots — and reap large profits. For every $19 twelve-piece chicken bucket from KFC, only 25 cents goes to the farmer that raised the poultry, while less than $5 goes to the chicken processor. (KFC gets the rest.)
  2. These large companies use unfair contracts, require expensive equipment and building upgrades, and employ other aggressive tactics to squeeze poultry farmers to produce more and more chickens and turkeys for less and less money.
  3. The big chicken and turkey companies own everything from the chicks and poults to the feed, the trucks, the slaughter facilities, and the brand. The grower assumes all the debt associated with the operation, including the mortgages on the special buildings they have to construct to get a contract. The farmer also shoulders the expenses of utilities and of removing waste and dead birds.
  4. Concentrating poultry production means concentrating the amount of waste seeping off of factory farms into nearby waterways (like the Chesapeake Bay). Perdue and other big companies leave the farmers to shoulder all the responsibility for dealing with the waste.
Do you need more reasons to avoid poultry produced by these giant companies? Consider that their market power begets enormous political power — and these companies throw their weight around to make sure they can continue producing the most birds for the most profit. Plus, factory farming hurts poultry producers, consumers, and the environment.
Nothing showcases the power Big Ag holds over our political leaders more than emails we at Food & Water Watch revealed last year between Martin O’Malley, the Democratic governor of Maryland and poultry giant Perdue.

Poultry workers rally at Miss. Capitol

Groups: Chicken plant among worst for animal cruelty
 Pilgrim's Pride in Natchitoches
• Amick Farms, Hurlock, Maryland
• Case Farms, Canton, Ohio
• Pilgrims Pride, Chattanooga, Tenn.
• Tyson, Shelbyville, Tenn.
• Pilgrim's Pride, Natchitoches, La
• Sanderson, Collins, Miss.
• Southern Hen, Moselle, Miss.
• OK Foods, Heavener, Okla.
• Pilgrim's Pride, Mt. Pleasant, Tex.
Source: Farm Sanctuary

Waste Pollution and the Environment

(1) The USDA reports that animals in the US meat industry produce 61
million tons of waste each year, which is 130 times the volume of human
waste - or five tons for every US citizen.

(2) North Carolina's 7,000,000 factory-raised hogs create four times as
much waste - stored in reeking, open cesspools - as the state's 6.5 million
people. The Delmarva Peninsula's 600 million chickens produce 400,000 tons
of manure a year.

(3) According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and
cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and
contaminated groundwater in 17 states.

(4) Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and
nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and
fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by
pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina.

(5) Since 1995, an additional one billion fish have been killed from manure
runoff in estuaries and coastal areas in North Carolina, and the Maryland
and Virginia tributaries leading into the Chesapeake Bay. These deaths can
be directly related to the 10 million hogs currently being raised in North
Carolina and the 620 million chickens on the Eastern Shore of the
Chesapeake Bay.

(6) The pollution from animal waste causes respiratory problems, skin
infections, nausea, depression and even death for people who live near
factory farms. Livestock waste has been linked to six miscarriages in women
living near a hog factory in Indiana.

(7) In Virginia, state guidelines indicate that a safe level of fecal
coliform bacteria is 200 colonies per 100 milliliters of water. In 1997,
some streams had levels as high as 424,000 per 100 milliliters.

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable
Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of
Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable
Future, July 9, 1999
(2) Chris Bedford, "How Our food is Produced Matters!", AWI Quarterly,
Summer 1999
(4) Zakin, Susan. "Nonpoint Pollution: The Quiet Killer," Field & Stream,
August 1999, p.86
(5) Environmental Protection Agency, 1998
(6) Centers for Disease Control, Mortality Weekly Report, July 5, 1996
(7) Washington Post, June 1, 1997

Animal Welfare

(1) Each full-grown chicken in a factory farm has as little as six-tenths
of a square foot of space. Because of the crowding, they often become
aggressive and sometimes eat each other. This has lead to the painful
practice of debeaking the birds.

(2) Hogs become aggressive in tight spaces and often bite each other's
tails, which has caused many farmers to cut the tails off.

(3) Concrete or slatted floors allow for easy removal of manure, but
because they are unnatural surfaces for pigs, the animals often suffer
skeletal deformities.

(4) Ammonia and other gases from manure irritate animals' lungs, to the
point where over 80% of US pigs have pneumonia upon slaughter.

(5) Due to genetic manipulation, 90% of broiler chickens have trouble

(1) Horrigan, Leo, Lawrence, Robert S., Walker, Polly, "How Sustainable
Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of
Industrial Agriculture," Johns Hopkins University's Center for a Livable
Future, July 9, 1999
(2) ibid.
(3) ibid.
(4) ibid.
(5) Erik Marcus, Vegan, Mcbooks, 1998

Poultry producer to reopen former Townsends plant in Siler City

Posted by David Bracken on August 22, 2014 

 poultry producer plans to reopen the former Townsends chicken processing plant in Siler City.Carolina Premium Foods this week received a $750,000 grant from the state’s Rural Infrastructure Authority to assist with the project. The company plans to invest $4 million renovating and installing two new production lines in the 95,000-square-foot facility.
Carolina Premium Foods has committed to creating 38 new, full-time jobs, with expectations that the company’s workforce will grow to over 300 within five years.
The Whispering Pines-based company focuses on producing free-range, organic poultry products.
The Siler City plant once employed more than a thousand people but has been closed for several years after cycling through a number of owners.
After Townsends filed for bankruptcy in late 2010, the company's North Carolina assets were acquired by a Ukrainian billionaire, Oleg Bakhmatyuk, for $24.9 million in February 2011.
Omtron, the U.S. shell corporation Bakhmatyuk created, spent $7 million upgrading the Siler City plant. But Omtron abruptly announced in late July 2011 that it would close the facilities by October and lay off 1,156 workers.
Omtron was later forced to sell its assets at auction, and they were acquired by a group led by Rabin Worldwide in July for $5.36 million. Rabin later sold about 80 percent of the equipment in the Siler City plant to an Arkansas poultry company

Carolina Premium Foods to hire 700 in Siler City - The ...

Sep 17, 2014 - ... processing plant at a former Townsend Chicken facility in Siler City, ... The company, which received a $750,000 grant from the N.C. Rural

Top bidder pays $5.36 million for NC assets of chicken ...
The News & Observer
Jul 18, 2013 - The Townsend chicken processing plant in Siler City, N.C. ... bankruptcy auction for the North Carolina assets of chicken processor Townsend.

Chicken processor to close two NC plants

Posted July 29, 2011
Siler City, N.C. — The Townsends Inc. chicken plants in Siler City and Mocksville are closing, leaving more than 500 employees out of work, Siler City Mayor Charles Johnson said Friday.
Johnson said the rise in grain costs and fuel prices played a part in the decision to close both plants. He said the closing of the Siler City plant, the largest employer in town, will be devastating to the community.
The Siler City plant employs 550 workers, while the Mocksville plant has 130 workers.
"It's very shocking and sad," Johnson said.
chickensSiler City losing 500 jobs
Johnson said the closures will especially affect chicken farmers in Chatham County and surrounding areas who work on a contract basis with Townsends.
Siler City chicken farmer Charles Moore said 90 percent of his business comes from Townsend. He said the closure means he will probably only be able to keep his business afloat until the end of the year.
"We're kind of bottom of the line, but we're trying to do our best," Moore said.
The Siler City plant is expected to close by Oct. 1.
In May, the chicken processor announced plans to eliminate 145 jobs at the Siler City plant, 1101 E. Third St., during the first week of July.
Townsends Inc. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in December, saying it had more than $100 million in liabilities because of a combination of high feed costs and low prices for chicken. Omtron Ltd., an affiliate of Agroholding Avangard, Ukraine’s largest egg producer, bought Townsends' North Carolina plants, its headquarters in Delaware and other assets for $24.9 million.
Following the sale, Johnson said town leaders hoped Townsends would remain active. He said the plant meant tens of millions of dollars to the local economy.
"This money is mostly spent in the Siler City area," Johnson said.
WRAL News' calls to Omtron were not returned on Friday.

Comments:  This is better than the other Southern Chicken Plants!

Shenandoah Processing Invests $2.2 Million To Revitalize Poultry Processing In Harrisonburg, Virginia, Region

Area Development Online News Desk (12/09/2013)

henandoah Processing, LLC, a newly-formed, locally-owned company located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will reopen a former Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing facility, creating 102 new jobs and revitalizing poultry production in the region.

During the three-year project, Shenandoah Processing will invest more than $2.2 million in capital improvements and purchase an additional $160 million of Virginia grown poultry from Virginia growers over the next three years. The Shenandoah Processing facility will serve the growing market for organically raised and "all-natural" chicken.

Gov. Bob McDonnell said, "Shenandoah Processing is a tremendous example of the entrepreneurial underpinnings of Virginia agriculture. Starting first as a poultry grower, Shenandoah Processing owner Corwin Heatwole is building on his experience in opening a processing facility that will provide a new market for other growers and create jobs in the Harrisonburg area."

Shenandoah Processing will provide processing services for Shenandoah Valley Organics, a poultry growing operation also started by Mr. Heatwole. In addition, the facility will provide custom processing services to individual farmers and growers who wish to have poultry prepared for retail sale. The facility will offer five end products: whole birds, boneless breasts, leg quarters, paws, and basic cut-up.

The facility start-up will involve Shenandoah Processing leasing the facility and up-fitting with processing equipment. The facility will go from processing approximately 20,000 birds a day in year one to 30,000 birds a day in year two to 50,000 birds a day in year three.

"Through this project, Shenandoah Processing is adding further diversity to Virginia's number one agricultural commodity - poultry," said Todd P. Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. "The Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development program is once again fulfilling its mission of encouraging further development of agricultural and forestry processing facilities while providing new opportunities for Virginia's agricultural producers. The additional capital investment and job creation at the re-started facility is outstanding for Harrisonburg. I am especially pleased about Shenandoah Processing's commitment that practically 100 percent of the poultry processed at the facility will be from Virginia growers. The local agricultural economy in Rockingham and surrounding counties will benefit greatly from having this new operation come online."

Shenandoah Valley Organics will work with poultry growers in the Central Shenandoah Valley to source their birds for Shenandoah Processing, targeting production of almost 11 million, high-quality, organic chickens in the first three years. In many instances, growers will be able to use existing poultry houses that are currently out of production in order to serve the new demand. By year three, Shenandoah Processing is expecting to require the full-time use of 106 poultry houses and provide opportunities for up to 70 farmers, the Governor’s Office said.

The President of Shenandoah Processing, Corwin Heatwole, said, "We believe there is a significant demand for certified organic/humanly raised chicken products. This awareness will only increase. We are excited to be bringing this project to the Valley and know it will help create a source of income for many families here in the Valley. One of the most important parts of this project is the life that will be brought back to many poultry houses that are currently out of production. We greatly appreciate the support that has been felt from locals, Harrisonburg, and the State."

The Governor’s Office said the economic ripple effect of activities at Shenandoah Processing will be substantial in the surrounding community. New poultry production will result in greater demand for equipment providers, poultry veterinarians, farm hands, feed suppliers and other operations that support the substantial poultry industry in the Shenandoah Valley.

Harrisonburg Economic Development Director Brian Shull added "Shenandoah Processing will be repurposing an idle processing plant that has been off-line for many years. Bringing this facility back into production, along with significant capital investment and new job creation, makes this a very important announcement for Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership."

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the City of Harrisonburg to help make the project a reality. Governor McDonnell approved a $50,000 matching grant from the Governor's AFID Fund to assist Harrisonburg with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

Pilgrim's Pride plant in Boaz closing today; 44 percent of workers to transfer to other facilities
By Lucy Berry |
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on January 24, 2014 at 3:18 PM, updated January 24, 2014 at 3:54 PM

BOAZ, Alabama – The Pilgrim's Pride chicken processing plant in Boaz is set to close today, leaving behind an empty facility and forcing more than 1,000 workers to either transfer or look for other jobs.
Pilgrim's Pride announced plans to close its Boaz plant in November in an effort to help streamline operations and generate more than $200 million in savings this year. The company will consolidate operations in Russellville and Douglas, Ga., to absorb the Boaz processing facility and add about 100 new jobs.
Cameron Bruett, spokesman for Pilgrim's Pride, said the company has identified employment opportunities for about 44 percent of its Boaz workforce at facilities in Russellville, Guntersville and other locations. Employees who accept offers to transfer will receive relocation and housing assistance, Bruett said.
Matt Arnold, president and chief executive officer of the Marshall County Economic Development Council, said about 300 workers will be moved to the Guntersville plant and 75 will transfer to Russellville after today.
Doug Schult, head of human resources for Pilgrim's Pride, said Pilgrim's held an on-site job fair and partnered with the state's Rapid Response Team to find assistance for displaced employees who cannot transfer to an alternate Pilgrim's location.
The Boaz facility, purchased by Pilgrim's Pride in 2007, is the processor's smallest operation. The Associated Press reported in November that area utilities spent millions refurbishing the facility after the chicken plant moved to the space seven years ago and then later asked for rate cuts to save on costs.
Pilgrim's Pride, a heavy utility and natural gas user, is the Boaz Gas Board's largest customer and makes up about 40 percent of its flow, Arnold said.
"The utilities will take a hit there," he said. "For all of a sudden that revenue stream to stop can create some problems."
Despite Pilgrim's decision to shut its Boaz facility and force some of its workers out of a job, Arnold doesn't anticipate a massive spike in unemployment.
Arnold said Pilgrim's has been working with competing poultry facilities in Marshall, DeKalb and Etowah counties to find jobs for workers who cannot move with the company. He said interested workers will also have an opportunity to take retraining courses at Snead State Community College.
Arnold estimates hundreds of contract chicken farmers in Marshall County will be impacted by the shutdown. Some of them will shift to the Guntersville plant, but it may be tough for the growers who have to transport chickens to Russellville, which is in Franklin County.
"The longer the drive, the longer the transportation, you lose birds, especially in times like right now when it's so cold or in July or August when it's so hot," he said, adding that Pilgrim's plans to change the way it pays per pound so the process is not as detrimental to growers.
After the plant closes down, Arnold said Pilgrim's will remove equipment from the facility and work with local and state officials to sell the building.
"In a couple of weeks, we will get a team in there and get representatives from the Alabama Department of Commerce to assess the building to see what this building would be best suited for and what industry segments do we need to target to maximize the potential of this building," he said.
Pilgrim's Pride also plans to invest about $10 million to upgrade its Falkville feed mill and $25 million to modernize facilities and expand large bird deboning capacity in Mt. Pleasant, Texas.
The company announced last year it would invest $25 million in its Alabama operations to include a new feed mill in Pinckard and a $10 million renovation of its poultry processing facility in Enterprise.
Pilgrim's Pride employs about 37,500 workers and has poultry processing and prepared-food facilities in 12 states, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
"We are confident these capital improvement projects will position the company, our stakeholders and our team members for success for many years to come," said Bill Lovette, president and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride, in a statement.

Lawsuit Challenges Sale of Harrisonburg Tyson Plant
Updated: Tue 10:27 PM, May 10, 2011
The Department of Justice filed a civil antitrust lawsuit Tuesday challenging George’s Inc.’s acquisition of Tyson Foods’ Harrisonburg, Virginia chicken processing complex.
The department said that, based on the information gathered thus far, the acquisition eliminates substantial competition between the two companies for the procurement of services of chicken growers in the Shenandoah Valley area.
The department’s lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Harrisonburg, requests the court to declare the acquisition to be unlawful under the antitrust laws and order appropriate equitable relief, such as divestiture of the Harrisonburg complex.
“The department’s lawsuit alleges that George’s acquisition of Tyson’s Harrisonburg chicken processing facility would reduce growers’ ability to receive competitive prices for their services,” says Christine Varney, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “America’s farmers deserve competitive prices and terms for the sale of their services, and the Antitrust Division will vigorously pursue anticompetitive acquisitions that stand in the way of achieving that goal.”
Chicken processors, such as Tyson and George’s, are also referred to in the industry as “integrators.” Integrators typically contract with farmers to grow chickens that are then transported to plants for processing.
The processors provide the chicks and the feed, and the growers provide the housing and labor. Feed is delivered on a regular basis and since it is costly to transport grown chickens long distances, processors typically contract with growers that are located close to the processors’ plants and feed mills.
Prior to the acquisition, three chicken processors, Tyson, George’s and JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride, competed in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley region for the services of local chicken growers. By combining the Tyson plant with George’s Edinburg, Virginia operations, the sale decreased the number of processors in the area to two, reducing competition for grower services.
Tyson and George’s publicly announced the acquisition March 18. Upon learning of the proposed acquisition, the department’s Antitrust Division opened an investigation into the proposed deal. The Justice Department sought information on the potential competitive effects of the transaction, and George’s proposed business justifications for purchasing the Edinburg plant.
On Saturday, May 7, despite the parties’ awareness of the department’s serious antitrust concerns about the transaction, and without providing a response to the information requested by the department, George’s and Tyson entered into an asset purchase agreement and simultaneously closed the transaction.
The acquisition was not required to be reported under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976, which requires companies to notify and provide information to the department and the Federal Trade Commission before consummating certain size acquisitions. The purchase price of the transaction was less than the minimum reporting threshold.
George’s, headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, is the 15th largest chicken processor in the United States, with output of more than 20 million pounds of chicken per week. In addition to its Shenandoah Valley operations, George’s processes chicken in Springdale, Arkansas and Cassville, Missouri.
Tyson Foods, also headquartered in Springdale, is the largest chicken processor in the United States, with output of more than 205 million pounds of chicken per week.
JBS/Pilgrim’s Pride, headquartered in Greely, Colorado, is the second largest chicken processor in the United States, with output of more than 160 million pounds of chicken per week.
Statement from Gary George, chairman and CEO of George’s:
“This lawsuit is a blatant example of government overreach that could end up hurting the people it purports to protect. The Department of Justice is trying to stop our small company from buying a business and making it better. We believe our ownership of the Harrisonburg poultry complex will actually benefit the employees, poultry farmers and the community.
We’re honoring and extending the contracts Tyson had with local poultry growers and have retained substantially all of the people who were employed by Tyson. In fact, we plan to gradually increase poultry production in the Harrisonburg complex, using more of its existing capacity. This is expected to benefit growers by reducing the amount of time between flocks and benefit plant production employees by giving them more work hours each week.
We’re pleased with the positive feedback we’ve received from our new employees and contract poultry farmers, as well as community leaders. Like many of them, we’re disappointed our government is wasting taxpayer dollars in an effort to disrupt a change in ownership that will generate so many benefits.
Statement from Donnie King, senior group vice president of Poultry and Prepared Foods for Tyson Foods, Inc.:
“Tyson Foods’ sale to George’s for the price of $3 million saved an unprofitable poultry operation that was in danger of closing.
 Such a shutdown would have affected the lives of more than 500 employees and 121 contract growers, as well as local businesses that support and benefit from the poultry complex. By trying to force George’s to sell this complex and in effect undo this sale, the Department of Justice is jeopardizing the livelihood of hundreds of people in the Harris onburg community.”

That turkey on your plate could use some more industry competition
By Christopher Leonard November 22, 2013
Christopher Leonard, a former national business reporter with the Associated Press, is a fellow at the New America Foundation and the author of the forthcoming “The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business.”
Turkey is America’s most political meat. Every Thanksgiving, a roasted turkey anchors the meal at which we pay homage to the Pilgrims and give thanks for our country’s prosperity and freedom. The president pardons a bird in the Rose Garden. And Ben Franklin even compared the turkey favorably to the bald eagle in a letter to his daughter: “For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America . . . a Bird of Courage.”
Don’t blame the poor turkey. The takeover of America’s meat industry began with its less-prestigious cousin, the chicken. Starting around the 1940s, chickens were pressed into the service of a new meat system that can only be described as feudal. In this industrial system, chickens are born in roosts where their eggs drop onto conveyor belts and are then shipped to giant hatcheries, after which the chicks are raised in warehouse-like barns and slaughtered in processing plants modeled on Henry Ford’s assembly line. Industrializing the chicken’s life cycle allowed poultry companies such as Tyson Foods to gain unprecedented control over mass animal production. From a central office in Springdale, Ark., Tyson can control what kinds of birds are raised, what they are fed and when they are slaughtered.
Here is what modern poultry farming looks like: A farmer will borrow several hundred thousand dollars (or in some cases millions) to build industrial barns where the birds will be raised. The birds themselves are never bought or sold on an open market; a poultry company delivers chicks to the farm and picks them up about six weeks later when the birds are big enough to slaughter. Farmers are kept on short-term contracts with the big poultry companies and live in fear that they’ll be dropped.
I spent several years touring chicken farms, cattle feedlots and industrial pork barns throughout the Midwest while researching the meat industry. Consumers are paying near-record-high prices for meat these days. Turkey prices have jumped about 47 percent since Thanksgiving 2007, even after adjusting for inflation, to $1.82 per pound. Beef prices rose 16 percent during that period to about $4.98 per pound, while pork increased 20 percent to $3.81 per pound. Inflation-adjusted meat prices have been higher, but we have to go back decades — most recently in the 1970s, when grain prices skyrocketed. After that crisis, industrialization gave consumers a big, one-time price drop. However, prices have been rising steadily over the past decade, as the industry consolidated.
Even with rising prices, poultry farmers are living on the edge of bankruptcy. I’ve sat in the living rooms of farmers who were working for free because poultry companies didn’t pay them enough to cover the cost of farming. A lot of them took raw deals with the companies for no better reason than they loved their home towns and there weren’t any better opportunities around.
Yet, the operating profit margins of the top four meatpackers rose steadily between 2007 and 2010, even as the economy stagnated, according to USDA data. Between 2009 and 2010, operating profit margins for the Big Four meat companies more than doubled to 4.5 percent. This past week, Tyson Foods reported that it earned a record $778 million in profit last year as it raised prices for beef, pork and chicken.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are people willing to make a different world, even within the confines of the modern meat oligarchy.

Where Is The Ben & Jerry’s Of Meat Processing?
Apr 7, 2014 10:00 am

 you’ve ever eaten a McNugget (or rotisserie chicken or frozen chicken pot pie from the supermarket), then you’ve had Tyson chicken. Over several decades, the company grew from a small family business in Arkansas into the biggest chicken company in America. But this is not just a corporate success story. It’s the story of how one company pioneered a new business model that would change America’s food system, placing the farming class at the mercy of corporations, obliterating competition in the market and reducing the quality of the meat you buy. Sound scary? Read all about it in a new book by Christopher Leonard, The Meat Racket: The Secret Takeover of America’s Food Business.John Tyson founded Tyson Foods in the 1930s. His son, Don, eventually took over and grew the business substantially. The business model they pioneered was vertical integration, which involved investing in every part of chicken production, from the hatchery to the feed mill to the slaughterhouse. The only part of chicken raising Tyson outsourced was, well, chicken raising: the riskiest part of the business. The company delivers baby chicks to contracted farmers who raise them on the feed Tyson provides. The farmers get paid for the chickens that make it to full size; if they get sick birds, they take a loss. Fee structures are set by Tyson with little to no room for negotiation.
“In rural communities, raising meat is still a pillar of the economy,” says Leonard. “But this economic path is really being choked out by a few monopolistic companies that totally dominate the industry. Those would be Tyson Foods, Cargill, JBS and Smithfield Foods. Often, farmers don’t have a choice of who to deal with. There won’t be another meat packer within miles and miles of a meat town.”
In the 1970s, nearly 40 companies provided half the chicken Americans consumed. Today, just three companies produce that amount and they control every aspect of production, from egg to vacuum-sealed chicken breast at the grocery store. And it’s not just chicken. The pork and cattle industries have also been “chickenized”: vertically integrated. Walk into any supermarket meat aisle and it may seem like you have a variety of brand names and products to choose from. But virtually all of them can be traced back to one of the big four meat corporations.
“I’m a business reporter and I love capitalism,” Leonard tells me. “That’s why I write about this stuff. I love entrepreneurs like Don Tyson, who built Tyson Foods. He truly was a genius. But the reality is that public policy makers allowed these giant meat companies to buy out all their competitors and consolidate to the point where we don’t have real competition anymore. That’s not Don Tyson’s fault.
“Society can play a role in deciding the shape of an industry. Do we want our farmers to live on the edge of bankruptcy? Do we want them to not be able to afford health insurance or even fix things at their house, because their contracts are structured in a way that volatility is shifted to the farm and away from the company?”
Leonard’s book reveals just how powerful the meat industry is. The Obama administration, when it came into office, tried to improve the balance of market power held by giant agribusinesses with proposed antitrust reforms. But the meat industry and its lobbyists mounted a well-calibrated (and well-funded) response to kill the reforms. In the end, no meaningful antitrust laws were passed, but one new piece of legislation was: reducing the number of food safety inspectors at poultry plants and increasing companies’ ability to police themselves.
It all sounds so insidious, doesn’t it? The Meat Racket sets a tone that could be punctuated by the Law & Order “cha-chung.” And here’s one more reason you, as a consumer, should pay heed. Chicken prices are at record highs right now. Sure, when you adjust for inflation, meat is cheaper today than it was in the 1950s and ’60s. But for all the distasteful aspects of industrializing the meat system, consumers should at least be benefiting from cheaper meat. Instead, companies like Tyson are known to temporarily cut back production on chicken farms when prices fall too low in order to raise prices, then increase supply to take advantage of those higher prices.
Of course, for those who can afford to buy hand-raised meat from their local butcher shop or farmer’s market, these issues might seem irrelevant. But for most Americans – 90% of meat production is industrialized in this country – supermarket meat and fast-food are the sources of protein they must rely on.
“I think if we could just stimulate more competition and transparency in this market, consumers could start sending their dollars towards products they actually approve of,” says Leonard. “Where is the Ben & Jerry’s of meat production? Where is the big national-scale producer that’s creating higher-quality meat at just a slight premium? We don’t see that today and it’s because of the anti-competitive practices of the big firms that control the market.”
102 new Virginia jobs at Shenandoah Processing
Virginia will be home to 102 new jobs at Shenandoah Processing. A former Pilgrim’s Pride poultry processing facility will be reopened by Shenadoah Processing, LLC.
According to an article on The Poulty Site, the processing plant will eventually process 50,000 birds per day, the company will be investing $2.2 million in capital improvements, and an additional $160 million of poultry will be purchased from Virginia growers.
The jobs will be located in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Other processors in Virginia include Hershey Foods of Virginia, Cargill Turkey Products and Perdue.
More information regarding these jobs can obtained from Harrisonburg Economic Development.
No. 76-2115.
United States Court of Appeals,
Fifth Circuit.
April 22, 1977.
Barry Grossman, John J. Powers, III, Thomas E. Kauper, Asst. Attys. Gen., Antitrust Div., U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., John W. Stokes, U. S. Atty., Atlanta, Ga., for plaintiff-appellant.
Joel B. Kleinman, Washington, D.C., amicus curiae, for Alabama, and others.
Sidney O. Smith, Michael A. Doyle, Frederick H. Von Unwerth, Atlanta, Ga., for defendant-appellee.
Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
Before MORGAN and HILL, Circuit Judges, and NOEL,* District Judge.
LEWIS R. MORGAN, Circuit Judge:

We must decide whether broiler industry companies that neither own nor operate farms can be "farmers" within the meaning of a 1922 federal statute called the Capper-Volstead Act,1 which gives farmers' cooperatives some measure of protection from the antitrust laws. The question is a novel one. After careful study of the Act and its legislative history, we are convinced that Congress's purpose in enacting Capper-Volstead does not mandate or permit protection of these broiler industry companies from the proscriptions of the antitrust laws. The district court held otherwise, and we reverse.
A. The Broiler Industry
Broilers are young chickens that are slaughtered when seven-to-nine weeks old, then processed and offered for sale ready-to-cook. The broiler industry comprises generally two types of entities integrator companies and contract growers. The defendant National Broiler Marketing Association (NBMA) is composed of integrator companies.
"Integrators" have that name because over the years they have accomplished what is called the vertical integration of much of the broiler industry. That is, they have taken on more than one of the tasks necessary to bring broilers to consumers. Thus, many NBMA members2 own and operate not only processing plants, but also feed mills, hatcheries, and breeder flocks (for the production of broiler eggs). Still, most NBMA members are processors, and a few operate only processing plants.
The one major operation not generally performed by the integrator firms is the actual raising of the broiler chicks to maturity. This is handled by farmers called contract growers. These growers raise the chicks on their own farms in their own buildings. They provide their own labor and equipment. The growers also supply the water and electricity needed during the grow-out process, as well as the litter and fuel used in lining and heating the broiler houses. The day-to-day husbandry of the flocks is left to the growers.
Title to the broiler chicks is retained by the broiler integrators during the grow-out process. The integrators also supply feed and veterinary services. The integrators decide the number and timing of chick placements and the age and size at which the birds will be marketed.
Generally, the growers are treated by the integrators as independent contractors. The contracts provide for a minimum and maximum payment per bird or per pound to the grower.3
B. The Litigation
The government brought a civil antitrust action4 against NBMA, alleging that the Association's members and others had combined to fix broiler prices and to restrict broiler production in order to increase broiler prices. After a period of discovery, both parties moved for partial summary judgment on agreed facts. The issue was whether NBMA's members are farmers within the meaning of the Capper-Volstead Act, which states generally that "(p)ersons engaged in the production of agricultural products as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers" may engage in certain activities cooperatively.5
The district court held that NBMA's members are farmers as the term is used in the Act and granted NBMA's motion for partial summary judgment.6 Then the government, with NBMA's acquiescence, filed an amended complaint, deleting all of the allegations that survived the partial summary judgment.7 The parties stipulated that the government would be allowed to bring a later action reviving those allegations.
The district court granted final judgment in favor of NBMA,8 and the case is here on the government's appeal of the district court's final order.
We have noted already that the issue we must decide today is novel. In fact, the Capper-Volstead Act, since its enactment in 1922, has received little attention from the Supreme Court.9 Moreover, no significant body of Capper-Volstead law has developed in the lower federal courts.10 And the legal commentary has not been abundant.11
The positions of the parties may be stated briefly. The government contends that Congress clearly meant to limit the benefits of the Capper-Volstead Act to persons that own or operate farms. The government argues that this interpretation comports with the ordinary meaning of the word "farmers" and with the central themes of the legislative history of the Act. The record reflects and NBMA concedes that some of its members neither own nor operate any farms on which broilers are raised to maturity.
NBMA counters that "farmers" ought to be read "in a realistically broad sense."12 Deemphasizing "farmers," but clearly aware that the term "farmers" is the slipper that must fit the foot, NBMA argues that Congress intended to afford Capper-Volstead's protection "to all persons actually engaged in the production of agricultural products."13 NBMA urges that its members are so engaged principally because they own the chicks, furnish the feed, and share in the risks that attend broiler production.
Neither of the interpretations seems on its face wholly irrational. Our task is to decide which of the two is the more congenial to the language and purpose of Capper-Volstead.
A. The Words Congress Used
We begin with the words of the statute.14 Congress granted a measure of protection from the antitrust laws to "(p)ersons engaged in the production of agricultural products as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers . . . ." NBMA focuses on the first part of the clause persons engaged in the production of agricultural products as the key to the Act's coverage. It seems clear, however, that the universe of persons engaged in the production of agricultural products can be larger than the universe of those so engaged as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers.15 The test, then, is whether broiler integrator firms are farmers.
What meaning are we to place on the word "farmers"? It is long settled that words in statutes should be given their ordinary, popular meaning unless Congress clearly meant the words in some more technical sense.16 Mr. Justice Frankfurter stated the point well:
(L)egislation when not expressed in technical terms is addressed to the common run of men and is therefore to be understood according to the sense of the thing, as the ordinary man has a right to rely on ordinary words addressed to him.
Addison v. Holly Hill Fruit Products, Inc., 322 U.S. 607, 618, 64 S.Ct. 1215, 1221, 88 L.Ed. 1488 (1944). Of course we cannot take a poll to determine the ordinary, popular meaning of the word "farmers." And our confidence in the dictionary for this purpose is not great.17 We are left to our judgment, informed by the whole of our experience.
We cannot conceive that the ordinary, popular sense of the word "farmers" would fit broiler integrator companies. The husbandry of the broiler flocks is carried out neither by these firms nor by their employees, but by the contract growers. The farms where the husbandry is done are owned not by NBMA members or their employees, but by these growers. Whatever else farming may mean, an irreducible minimum must be either husbandry of animals or crops or farm ownership. Given the absence of both of these elements here, none of the factors suggested by NBMA as indicative of farming nor all of the factors together would seem a sufficient shoe horn to squeeze these companies into farmers' boots. Asked to examine the broiler business and to identify the "farmers," Justice Frankfurter's common run of men, we think, would point to the contract growers the persons who own and operate the farms as the "farmers."
NBMA cautions us against a romantic view of agriculture and points out that agriculture has changed greatly from the Jeffersonian conception of the self-sufficient yeoman. We agree that agriculture has changed much. But the ordinary, popular meaning of the word "farmer" has not. When the common run of people wish to speak of the broader spectrum of modern agriculture, the word generally used is "agribusiness." "Farmer" still means what it meant in 1922 one who owns or operates a farm.
Mr. Justice Holmes observed once that "the meaning of a sentence is to be felt rather than to be proved . . . ." United States v. Johnson, 221 U.S. 488, 496, 31 S.Ct. 627, 55 L.Ed. 823 (1911). We believe the Capper-Volstead Act, with its listing of beneficiaries farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers has a feeling, a cadence of meaning, that has no place for NBMA's member companies.
B. The Legislative History
Our examination of the legislative history of Capper-Volstead has only reinforced our conviction that Congress meant "farmers" to be read in its ordinary sense, as urged by the government, rather than in an imaginative, broad sense, as urged by NBMA.
The Act's legislative history carries two dominant themes. Congress meant to improve the bargaining position of farmers vis-a-vis corporate middlemen in order to increase farm income and, importantly, to stop the rise of tenancy and the migration of farm families to the cities. Second, Congress was convinced that the benefits afforded to farmers by Capper-Volstead should not be extended to include the corporate entities with which farmers dealt.
The Congressional concern for the weak bargaining position of the individual farmer was emphasized in the House Report:
Whenever a farmer seeks to sell his products he meets in the market place the representatives of vast aggregations of organized capital that largely determine the price of his products. Personally he has very little if anything to say about the price. If he seeks to associate himself with his neighbors for the purpose of collectively negotiating for a fair price he is threatened with prosecution.18
This point was reiterated in the upper chamber's debates. Senator Kellogg, the floor manager of the legislation, spoke of the farmer as "a small holder of land" whose "means and . . . opportunities are not sufficient to allow him to take any steps whatever in placing his products with the ultimate consumer or, usually, with the middleman."19 Thus, Congress's purpose in enacting Capper-Volstead was, as Mr. Justice Black observed, to give "individual farmers . . . through agricultural cooperatives acting as entities, the same unified competitive advantage and responsibility available to businessmen acting through corporations as entities." Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Association v. United States, 362 U.S. 458, 466, 80 S.Ct. 847, 853, 4 L.Ed.2d 880 (1969).
NBMA suggests that the purpose of Capper-Volstead was to make farming reliably profitable and to assure the nation a stable supply of wholesome food. This characterization is incomplete and therefore misleading. Congress meant to make farming reliably profitable in order to insure the occupational survival of small scale agriculturalists who were "widely scattered and inured to habits of individualism . . . ."20 By 1922 farming's unprofitability had sent thousands of farmers to the cities to find work.21 Congress feared that the system of small, individually owned farms would be unable to survive. Senator Kellogg stated this apprehension during the floor debates: "In my opinion, the greatest concern confronting the statesmen of the country is the tendency to drift to the cities, the decline of agriculture, the increase of landlordism and tenancy."22 Senator Capper reiterated the point:
Mr. President, every statesman looks forward to a condition as ideal when the whole country will be dotted with small farms, each operated by its owner. Every statesman deplores the spread of tenantry and insists that best citizenship can be developed only upon the individual system of farm production. Because of this peculiar characteristic of agriculture, the growers have never been able to adopt a corporate form of organization; they have, therefore, gradually fitted into the cooperative form of organization, which maintains individuality of production but enables them to unite for marketing purposes.23
Cooperation among farmers thus was seen as the best solution to the farmers' problems because it allowed them to band together without sacrificing their social and economic individualism. The House Report, for example, rejected the corporate mechanism as the farmers' redemption:
It is no answer that farmers may acquire the status and secure the rights of a business corporation by deeding their farms to a corporation. That is neither practical nor desirable from any standpoint.24
Senator Kellogg agreed:
Mr. President, of course, the farmer can not consolidate his land into great holdings or into corporate ownership, and he should not do so. The hope of this Nation, the hope of any nation, the hope of the independence and the prosperity of our people, our very civilization, depends upon the individual ownership and proprietorship of the soil.25
A corollary to Congress's purpose to strengthen the position of farmers vis-a-vis middlemen was Congress's resolve to leave fully subject to the antitrust laws those companies with which farmers dealt. For example, the Senate rejected26 an amendment27 proposed by Senator Phipps that would have extended the shelter of Capper-Volstead to companies such as sugar refineries that entered into pre-planting contracts with farmers. Senator Phipps's proposal generated this exchange on the floor:
Mr. KELLOGG. Mr. President, I hope this amendment will not be adopted. It permits any manufacturer who converts a product into a finished commodity where the price paid by the manufacturer to the producer is controlled by or dependent upon the price received by the manufacturer for the finished product to enter into any combination he sees fit. Of course, if they make contracts with the producers of the raw materials, the packers, the sugar manufacturers, or anybody manufacturing anything where the raw product is produced on the farms can combine under this bill.
If the Senate wishes absolutely to defeat the bill, it ought to adopt this amendment; otherwise not.
Mr. PHIPPS. Mr. President, will the Senator yield?
Mr. KELLOGG. I yield.
Mr. PHIPPS. I desire to call attention to the fact that this amendment is limited to cases where the manufacturer enters into a contract with the producer before the produce has been grown.
Mr. KELLOGG. I can answer that. That is perfectly easy to do. The packers could enter into contracts, the cotton mills could enter into contracts; and I hope the Senate will defeat the amendment.28
Although we concede that there are differences between the contractual arrangement prevalent in the broiler industry and the arrangements that would have been covered by the Phipps Amendment, we are convinced that the nature of the opposition to that Amendment is instructive here as evidence that the Capper-Volstead Congress would not have considered NBMA integrators "farmers," but instead would have grouped them with the packers, the cotton mills, and the sugar refineries.
Congress's determination to circumscribe carefully the coverage of the Act is reflected in other parts of the legislative history as well. For example, the House Report stated:
Section 1 defines and limits the kind of associations to which the legislation applies. These limitations are aimed to exclude from the benefits of this legislation all but actual farmers . . . .29
Reading "farmers" in its ordinary sense as meaning those who own or operate farms focuses the benefits of the Act more closely on the persons central to Congress's concern and it keeps subject to the antitrust laws those companies that prepare farm products for market.
C. The Fabric of Other Law
The language and legislative history of Capper-Volstead support the government's position. NBMA contends, however, that the government's reading of "farmers" is at odds with the treatment of broiler integrators and similar entities under other statutes and regulations.30 The contention is unavailing. First, broiler integrators and like companies have not fared nearly so well under other statutory schemes as the NBMA contention suggests.31 Second, none of the other statutes or regulations mentioned by NBMA involves the important national commitment to free competition embodied in the antitrust laws.32 We are wary of transplanting results from one statutory scheme to another, because policies may vary, and even where policies seem the same, different countervailing interests may affect the extent to which Congress intends to effectuate the policies.33
NBMA relies heavily on results under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)34 and stresses particularly a panel decision of this court, NLRB v. Strain Poultry Farms, Inc., 405 F.2d 1025 (5th Cir. 1969). In Strain, we held that a broiler integrator was a raiser of poultry within the meaning of the agricultural exemption in the FLSA.35 The Strain decision is no longer good law. In Bayside Enterprises, Inc. v. NLRB, --- U.S. ----, 97 S.Ct. 576, 50 L.Ed.2d 494 (1977), the Supreme Court held that the National Labor Relations Board's position on the issue must be sustained. The NLRB squarely and consistently has held:
when an employer contracts with independent growers for the care and feeding of the employer's chicks, the employer's status as a farmer engaged in raising poultry ends with respect to those chicks.
Imco Poultry, Division of International Multifoods Corp., 202 N.L.R.B. 259, 260 (1973). Thus, the government's interpretation of Capper-Volstead is consistent with the treatment accorded broiler integrators by the NLRB.
The Secretary of Labor long has held that employees of broiler integrators are not agricultural employees within the meaning of FLSA. A Labor Department regulation states:
Feed dealers and processors sometimes enter into contractual arrangements with farmers under which the latter agree to raise to marketable size baby chicks supplied by the former who also undertake to furnish all the required feed and possibly additional items. Typically, the feed dealer or processor retains title to the chickens until they are sold. Under such an arrangement, the activities of the farmers and their employees are clearly within section 3(f). The activities of the feed dealer or processor, on the other hand, are not 'raising of poultry' and employees engaged in them cannot be considered agricultural employees on that ground.36
We note these results under the labor laws because they show at least that the government's position is no aberration. To be sure, integrators have had some success in pressing their claim to be farmers.37 It is sufficient answer that we find nothing in these results under different schemes that compels an interpretation of Capper-Volstead that is contrary to the interpretation suggested by the language and legislative history of the Act. Blind obeisance to consistency is no virtue if it takes us from our primary duty to work the will of the elected representatives of the people, and such obeisance would be strange indeed here, as there is no real consistency to obey.
NBMA's position that the Capper-Volstead Act should be brought up to date to take account of the complex structure of modern agriculture38 rests on fundamental misconceptions of the Congressional purpose revealed in the language and legislative history of the Act and of the role of the judiciary in a democratic society.
The language and legislative history of Capper-Volstead make quite clear that Congress had no purpose to shelter from the laws of free competition the whole spectrum of agricultural enterprise. We may be certain that even in 1922 the agricultural economy had begun to evolve into the intricate thing it now is, yet Congress carefully limited the benefits of the Act to "farmers," and the legislative history reinforces our inclination to give the word its ordinary meaning.
When a court takes account of changed reality in interpreting statutes, the goal remains effectuation of Congressional purpose, not alteration of it. If there are good reasons why broiler integrators should be protected against the general national policy of free competition, then NBMA should present those reasons to Congress.39
Senior District Judge of the Southern District of Texas sitting by designation
7 U.S.C. §§ 291-92
This also includes companies owned by NBMA members or companies commonly owned with NBMA members
The minimum payment provided in some contracts is less than the cost incurred by the average grower in raising a flock of broilers. Ordinarily, NBMA members are free to lower the payment scale under their contracts with growers before any new flock is grown in response to rising feed costs or falling market prices for broilers. Members are also free to reduce the number of broilers or flocks placed with growers in response to market conditions. Members are usually free to terminate their contracts with growers after any flock and in fact have done so for a variety of reasons
The action was brought under section 4 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 4, to prevent and restrain alleged violations of section 1 of that Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1
The full text of the Act is as follows:
§ 291. Authorization of associations; powers
Persons engaged in the production of agricultural products as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers may act together in associations, corporate or otherwise, with or without capital stock, in collectively processing, preparing for market, handling, and marketing in interstate and foreign commerce, such products of persons so engaged. Such association may have marketing agencies in common; and such associations and their members may make the necessary contracts and agreements to effect such purposes: Provided, however, That such associations are operated for the mutual benefit of the members thereof, as such producers, and conform to one or both of the following requirements:
First. That no member of the association is allowed more than one vote because of the amount of stock or membership capital he may own therein, or,
Second. That the association does not pay dividends on stock or membership capital in excess of 8 per centum per annum.
And in any case to the following:
Third. That the association shall not deal in the products of non-members to an amount greater in value than such as are handled by it for members.
§ 292. Monopolizing or restraining trade and unduly enhancing prices prohibited; remedy and procedure
If the Secretary of Agriculture shall have reason to believe that any such association monopolizes or restrains trade in interstate or foreign commerce to such an extent that the price of any agricultural product is unduly enhanced by reason thereof, he shall serve upon such association a complaint stating his charge in that respect, to which complaint shall be attached, or contained therein, a notice of hearing, specifying a day and place not less than thirty days after the service thereof, requiring the association to show cause why an order should not be made directing it to cease and desist from monopolization or restraint of trade. An association so complained of may at the time and place so fixed show cause why such order should not be entered. The evidence given on such a hearing shall be taken under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of Agriculture may prescribe, reduced to writing, and made a part of the record therein. If upon such hearing the Secretary of Agriculture shall be of the opinion that such association monopolizes or restrains trade in interstate or foreign commerce to such an extent that the price of any agricultural product is unduly enhanced thereby, he shall issue and cause to be served upon the association an order reciting the facts found by him, directing such association to cease and desist from monopolization or restraint of trade. On the request of such association or if such association fails or neglects for thirty days to obey such order, the Secretary of Agriculture shall file in the district court in the judicial district in which such association has its principal place of business a certified copy of the order and of all the records in the proceeding, together with a petition asking that the order be enforced, and shall give notice to the Attorney General and to said association of such filing. Such district court shall thereupon have jurisdiction to enter a decree affirming, modifying, or setting aside said order, or enter such other decree as the court may deem equitable, and may make rules as to pleadings and proceedings to be had in considering such order. The place of trial may, for cause or by consent of parties, be changed as in other causes.
The facts found by the Secretary of Agriculture and recited or set forth in said order shall be prima facie evidence of such facts, but either party may adduce additional evidence. The Department of Justice shall have charge of the enforcement of such order. After the order is so filed in such district court and while pending for review therein the court may issue a temporary writ of injunction forbidding such association from violating such order or any part thereof. The court may, upon conclusion of its hearing, enforce its decree by a permanent injunction or other appropriate remedy. Service of such complaint and of all notices may be made upon such association by service upon any officer or agent thereof engaged in carrying on its business, or on any attorney authorized to appear in such proceeding for such association, and such service shall be binding upon such association, the officers, and members thereof.
7 U.S.C. §§ 291-92.
Eight years prior to passage of the Capper-Volstead Act, Congress enacted section 6 of the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C. § 17:
§ 17. Antitrust laws not applicable to labor organizations
The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws.
This was the first Congressional action to protect cooperative endeavors from the antitrust laws. Capper-Volstead's effect was "to clarify the exemption for agricultural organizations and to extend it to cooperatives having capital stock." Case-Swayne Co. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 389 U.S. 384, 391, 88 S.Ct. 528, 532, 19 L.Ed.2d 621 (1967).
United States v. National Broiler Marketing Ass'n, 1975-2 CCH Trade Cases P 60, 509 (N.D.Ga. Aug. 26, 1975)
Even cooperatives that come within the protection of Capper-Volstead do not thereby obtain complete antitrust immunity. See Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Ass'n v. United States, 362 U.S. 458, 80 S.Ct. 847, 4 L.Ed.2d 880 (1960); United States v. Borden Co., 308 U.S. 188, 60 S.Ct. 182, 84 L.Ed. 181 (1939)
United States v. National Broiler Marketing Ass'n, 1976-1 CCH Trade Cases P 60, 801 (N.D.Ga. Mar. 16, 1976)
The Supreme Court's most recent decision interpreting Capper-Volstead is Case-Swayne Co., Inc. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 389 U.S. 384, 88 S.Ct. 528, 19 L.Ed.2d 621 (1967), in which the Court held that the Sunkist cooperative could not qualify for the exemption because some of its members were packing houses that contracted with fruit growers to handle the growers' fruit for cost plus a fixed fee. 389 U.S. at 387, 88 S.Ct. 528. The Supreme Court in Case-Swayne emphasized that the legislative history of Capper-Volstead made clear Congress's purpose to limit the shelter of the Act to actual growers. Id. at 391-93, 88 S.Ct. 528. Thus, the Court concluded that "Congress did not intend to allow an organization with such nonproducer interests (i. e., the packing houses) to avail itself of the Capper-Volstead exemption." Id. at 395-96, 88 S.Ct. at 535
The instant case is a logical successor to Case-Swayne. In Case-Swayne, the Supreme Court had little difficulty concluding that the packing houses were not farmers. Here, entities somewhat analogous to the packing houses, broiler integrators, assert that they are farmers for the reasons stated in the text infra.
The remaining Supreme Court decisions about Capper-Volstead are Sunkist Growers, Inc. v. Winckler & Smith Citrus Products Co., 370 U.S. 19, 82 S.Ct. 1130, 8 L.Ed.2d 305 (1962) (several cooperatives may join together as one organization without losing Capper-Volstead protection); Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Ass'n v. United States, 362 U.S. 458, 80 S.Ct. 847, 4 L.Ed.2d 880 (1960) (Capper-Volstead not a license for farmers' cooperatives to engage in predatory practices otherwise violative of section 2 of Sherman Act); and United States v. Borden Co., 308 U.S. 188, 60 S.Ct. 182, 84 L.Ed. 181 (1939) (cooperative's combination with nonproducers not protected by Capper-Volstead; Capper-Volstead section 2 not exclusive remedy for cooperatives' anticompetitive conduct).
See also Tigner v. Texas, 310 U.S. 141, 60 S.Ct. 879, 84 L.Ed. 1124 (1940) (state antitrust law that exempts agriculture enterprises does not violate federal Constitution); Frost v. Corporation Commission, 278 U.S. 515, 49 S.Ct. 235, 73 L.Ed. 483 (1929) (Brandeis, J., dissenting) (discussion of cooperative movement); Liberty Warehouse Co. v. Burley Tobacco Growers' Co-operative Marketing Ass'n, 276 U.S. 71, 48 S.Ct. 291, 72 L.Ed. 473 (1928) (statute making illegal the witting interference with contract between farmer and cooperative not violative of federal Constitution).
The court of appeals and district court decisions treating Capper-Volstead either reached the Supreme Court, see note 9 supra, or are fairly routine applications of the principles announced in the Supreme Court opinions, e. g., Pacific Coast Agricultural Export Ass'n v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 526 F.2d 1196 (9th Cir. 1975), cert. denied, 425 U.S. 959, 96 S.Ct. 1741, 48 L.Ed.2d 204 (1976) (applying Borden and Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers ); Treasure Valley Potato Bargaining Ass'n v. Ore-Ida Foods, Inc., 497 F.2d 203 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 999, 95 S.Ct. 314, 42 L.Ed.2d 273 (1974) (potato marketing associations' activities qualified as marketing within meaning of Capper-Volstead); North Texas Producers Ass'n v. Metzger Dairies, Inc., 348 F.2d 189 (5th Cir. 1965), cert. denied, 382 U.S. 977, 86 S.Ct. 545, 15 L.Ed.2d 468 (1966) (applying Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers ); Northern California Supermarkets, Inc. v. Central California Lettuce Producers Cooperative, 413 F.Supp. 984 (N.D.Cal.1976) (Capper-Volstead protects price-fixing by cooperative even when not incident to other collective activity); Case-Swayne Co., Inc. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 355 F.Supp. 408 (D.C.Cal.1971) (restructured Sunkist comes within Capper-Volstead)
See generally, e. g., J. von Kalinowski, 16F Business Organizations (Antitrust Laws & Trade Regulation) §§ 51.01 to -.06 (1976); Hanna, Antitrust Immunities of Cooperative Associations, 13 Law & Contemp. Prob. 488 (1948); Hufstedler, A Prediction: The Exemption Favoring Agricultural Cooperatives Will Be Reaffirmed, 22 Admin.L.Rev. 455 (1969-70); Lemon, The Capper-Volstead Act Will It Ever Grow Up, 22 Admin.L.Rev. 433 (1969-70); Mahaffie, Cooperative Exemptions Under the Antitrust Laws: A Prosecutor's View, 22 Admin.L.Rev. --- (1969-70); Mischler, Agricultural Cooperative Law, 30 Rocky Mtn.L.Rev. 381 (1958); Noakes, Exemption for Cooperatives, 19 ABA Antitrust Section 407 (1961); Pogue, The Rationale of Exemptions from Antitrust, 19 ABA Antitrust Section 313 (1961); Saunders, The Status of Agricultural Cooperatives Under the Anti-Trust Laws, 20 Fed.B.J. 35 (1960)
Brief for NBMA at 42. But see Case-Swayne Co. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 389 U.S. 384, 88 S.Ct. 528, 19 L.Ed.2d 621 (1967). In Case-Swayne, the Supreme Court characterized Capper-Volstead as constituting "special exceptions to a general legislative plan," id. at 393, 88 S.Ct. at 533 and further spoke of the Act as a "limited" exemption, id. at 391 n. 8, 88 S.Ct. 528
Brief for NBMA at 22
Dupuy v. Dupuy, 511 F.2d 641, 642 (5th Cir. 1975)
The legislative history of Capper-Volstead, discussed infra, shows a genuine Congressional concern that the statute not be as broad as a liberal construction of "production" might allow. In Case-Swayne Co. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 389 U.S. 384, 88 S.Ct. 528, 19 L.Ed.2d 621 (1967), the Supreme Court noted this concern, quoting from a floor debate exchange involving Senator Kellogg, a principal sponsor of the measure:
"Mr. CUMMINS. . . . Are the words 'as farmers, planters, ranchmen, dairymen, nut or fruit growers' used to exclude all others who may be engaged in the production of agricultural products, or are those words merely descriptive of the general subject?
"Mr. KELLOGG. I think they are descriptive of the general subject. I think 'farmers' would have covered them all.
"Mr. CUMMINS. I think the Senator does not exactly catch my point. Take the flouring mills of Minneapolis: They are engaged, in a broad sense, in the production of an agricultural product. The packers are engaged, in a broad sense, in the production of an agricultural product. The Senator does not intend by this bill to confer upon them the privileges which the bill grants, I assume?
"Mr. KELLOGG. Certainly not; and I do not think a proper construction of the bill grants them any such privileges. The bill covers farmers, people who produce farm products of all kinds, and out of precaution the descriptive words were added.
"Mr. TOWNSEND. They must be persons who produce these things.
"Mr. KELLOGG. Yes; that has always been the understanding."
389 U.S. at 392, 88 S.Ct. at 533, quoting 62 Cong.Rec. 2052 (1922).
Banks v. Chicago Grain Trimmers Ass'n, 390 U.S. 459, 88 S.Ct. 1140, 20 L.Ed.2d 30 (1968); Malat v. Riddell, 383 U.S. 569, 86 S.Ct. 1030, 16 L.Ed.2d 102 (1966)
The relevant definitions of the word "farmer" in Webster's Third New International Dictionary (1964) include "a person who cultivates land or crops or raises livestock," "one that rents or leases land for cultivation," and "a person whose primary occupation is the raising of crops or livestock." Id. at 824
H.R.Rep.No.24, 67th Cong., 1st Sess. 2 (1921)
62 Cong.Rec. 2050 (1922)
The quoted language is from Tigner v. Texas, 310 U.S. 141, 145, 60 S.Ct. 879, 881, 84 L.Ed. 1124 (1940) (Frankfurter, J.)
See 62 Cong.Rec. 2218 (1922) (remarks of Sen. Calder)
62 Cong.Rec. 2051 (1922)
In the 1955 report of the Attorney General's National Committee to Study the Antitrust Laws, the chief reasons for protection of certain agricultural activities from the antitrust laws were listed. First among these was "preservation of the family farm as the primary unit of agricultural production." The report also listed assurance of an adequate supply of agricultural products and "the need for offsetting the weakness of the individual farmer faced with greater bargaining power in the markets where he buys and sells." J. von Kalinowski, 16F Business Organizations (Antitrust Laws and Trade Regulation § 51.01(1), at 51-3 n. 3 (1976),
quoting Att'y Gen.Rep. 306 (1955).
During the last decade of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th, mortgage indebtedness rose sharply, and there was a dramatic growth in the amount of farm tenancy in the country. By the end of the 1920s, a large percentage of the nation's farmers no longer owned the land they worked. Tenancy rates were exceptionally high in the specialized cash-crop areas of the country. In the eastern and western Cotton Belts, over two-thirds of all farmers were tenants, and in the wheat and corn belts, approximately two-fifths farmed land they did not own.
Conrat & Conrat, How U.S. Farmers Became Specialists in Cash and Debts, Smithsonian 54 (Mar. 1977).
62 Cong.Rec. 2058 (1922)
H.R.Rep.No.24, 67th Cong., 1st Sess. 2 (1921)
62 Cong.Rec. 2051 (1922)
62 Cong.Rec. 2275 (1922)
The amendment would have inserted the following language after "nut or fruit growers":
and where any such agricultural product or products must be submitted to a manufacturing process, in order to convert it or them into a finished commodity, and the price paid by the manufacturer to the producer thereof is controlled by or dependent upon the price received by the manufacturer for the finished commodity by contract entered into before the production of such agricultural product or products, then any such manufacturers may.
Cong.Rec. 2273 (1922)
62 Cong.Rec. 2274 (1922) (emphasis added)
H.R.Rep.No.24, 67th Cong., 1st Sess. 1 (1921). And see note 15 supra
Representative of the decisions cited by NBMA are NLRB v. Strain Poultry Farms, Inc., 405 F.2d 1025 (5th Cir. 1969) (Fair Labor Standards Act); United States v. Chemell, 243 F.2d 944 (5th Cir. 1957) (Treasury Regulations); and Agricultural Transport Ass'n v. United States, 274 F.Supp. 528 (N.D.Tex.1967) (Interstate Commerce Act). NBMA also mentions a decision of the New Orleans Bank for Cooperatives to extend credit, Brief for NBMA at 47; a decision of the Secretary of Agriculture regarding a turkey marketing order, 27 Fed.Reg. 3326-54 (1962); a Cost of Living Council Decision, Brief for NBMA at 50; and a recent state court decision in Maine, Maine Agricultural Marketing Ass'n v. Maplewood Poultry Co., Civ.No. 559 (Super.Ct.Me., Kennebec SS. 1971)
In addition to the Fair Labor Standards Act decisions cited in the text, infra, see, e. g., Parks v. Federal Crop Ins. Corp., 416 F.2d 833 (7th Cir. 1969); United States v. Elm Spring Farm, Inc., 38 F.Supp. 508 (D.Mass.1941), modified on other grounds, 127 F.2d 920 (1st Cir. 1942)
See e. g., Case-Swayne Co. v. Sunkist Growers, Inc., 389 U.S. 384, 88 S.Ct. 528, 19 L.Ed.2d 621 (1967)
See United States v. Sisson, 399 U.S. 267, 297-98, 90 S.Ct. 2117, 26 L.Ed.2d 608 (1970); United States v. Stewart, 311 U.S. 60, 69, 61 S.Ct. 102, 85 L.Ed. 40 (1940); Lane v. Railroad Retirement Bd., 185 F.2d 819, 822 (6th Cir. 1950). In FTC v. Bunte Bros., 312 U.S. 349, 61 S.Ct. 580, 85 L.Ed. 881 (1941), the Court stated:
Translation of an implication drawn from the special aspects of one statute to a totally different statute is treacherous business. The Interstate Commerce Act and the Federal Trade Commission Act are widely disparate in their historic settings, in the enterprises which they affect, in the range of control they exercise, and in the relation of these controls to the functioning of the federal system.
Id. at 353, 61 S.Ct. at 582.
29 U.S.C. § 201 et seq
29 U.S.C. § 203(f)
29 C.F.R. § 780.126
See note 30 supra
Brief for NBMA at 26, 31
Legislation introducing a new system is at best empirical, and not infrequently administration reveals gaps or inadequacies of one sort or another that may call for amendatory legislation. But it is no warrant for extending a statute that experience may disclose that it should have been made more comprehensive
Addison v. Holly Hill Fruit Products, Inc., 322 U.S. 607, 617, 64 S.Ct. 1215, 1221, 88 L.Ed. 1488 (1944).

The Poultry Litter Landscape

Bioenergy from farm waste can help solve well-known runoff issues in the Chesapeake Bay
By Luke Geiver | May 23, 2012
The Chesapeake Bay region is undertaking the most aggressive nutrient reduction effort to date. According to a report by the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Maryland Technology Development Corp. and Farm Pilot Project Coordination Inc., states and local governments in the region mandate a combined annual reduction of 60 million pounds of nitrogen and 4 million pounds of phosphorus by 2025 from the six states associated with the watershed. That includes Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, and New York, as well as the District of Columbia. So, something has to change for poultry and other agricultural outfits that produce high levels of nutrient-rich manure, adding to the region’s oversaturated soil and resulting water runoff issues.

According to the report, “Manure to Energy: Sustainable Solutions for the Chesapeake Bay Region,” three major areas hold the greatest concentration of livestock: the Lower Susquehanna River region in Pennsylvania features dairy, beef and chicken farms; the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia and West Virginia has a group of chicken and turkey producers; and the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland and Virginia is dominated by chicken production.

The animal manure and poultry litter problems are exacerbated by the logistical complexity of transporting excess litter away from the region. Aside from the variance in nutrient levels from one load of litter to another, the cost of long-distance transport typically outweighs the benefit. But fortunately, the organizations linked to the Chesapeake Bay report think the problem is solvable, and for the biomass industry, that’s a good thing. “As long as the American consumer relies on a diet of milk, meat and eggs, there will be a steady supply of animal manure as feedstock for energy projects,” the report states.

Digesting the Possibilities

EcoCorp Inc., a Virginia-based renewable energy developer with a knack for anaerobic digestion (AD), is already working in the Eastern Shore to reduce the amount of excess poultry litter. The company signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with a Maryland correctional facility, allowing a 1 MW poultry litter and corn stover AD system to provide one-third of the facility’s power needs. “Nobody has opposed it up to this point,” says John Ingersoll, president of EcoCorp, adding that there is no indication anyone will.

EcoCorp’s AD process doesn’t destroy the nutrients, and the nitrogen is converted to ammonia, according to Ingersoll. Of the 800,000 tons of chicken litter he says is produced between the Bay and the Atlantic Ocean every year, his project is using roughly 1 percent. “That gives you an idea of the potential,” he says, adding that 100 digesters could be built to help process the chicken litter in that area.

Ingersoll’s AD system is prefabricated, allowing utilization wherever needed. And the system uses a dry fermentation process, which greatly reduces water requirements. The project at the correctional facility will be complete in early 2013, he says.

While AD could be the choice process for many farmers whose operations contribute to Chesapeake Bay pollution, it isn’t the only answer.

Heating Up

In Rockingham County, Va., Oren Heatwole is heating his poultry houses through combustion of poultry litter gathered on-site, thereby also improving the environment for his birds.

In Accomack County, Va., Farm Pilot Project Coordination Inc. is working to produce both heat and power from 2,200 tons of poultry litter per year sourced from 11 farms with a total of 1.8 million birds. The energy will be used on-site with the resulting ash from the gasifier sold as fertilizer for local vegetable crops, further reducing phosphorous runoff.

And in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, BioEnergy Planet is partnering with Virginia Tech on a pyrolysis process that converts poultry litter to bio-oil and biochar. The partnership is developing a business model that allows technology providers to generate income from the energy produced, as well as the resulting biochar.

But Perdue Agribusiness and Fibrowatt LLC have a project that might provide the best glimpse into the real power of poultry litter. In response to a Maryland Clean Bay Power request for proposals (RFP) by Gov. Martin O’Malley last year, the two companies submitted a project proposal that would reduce runoff, help the state meet those lofty nutrient reduction goals, and generate 10 MW through gasification at a facility in Salisbury, Md. The project would also create 70,000 pounds of steam per hour to be used at Perdue’s adjacent soybean processing facility.

As of 2001, Perdue’s business arm, AgriRecycle, has shipped 12 million pounds of nitrogen and 7.5 million pounds of phosphorus out of the region, and perhaps more important, has become the state’s largest buyer of poultry litter. Jim Potter, president and chief operating officer of Fibrowatt’s parent, Homeland Renewable Energy Inc., says the prospect of poultry litter used with an AD application is good, but nothing beats combustion. “The combustion of poultry litter provides far superior value versus any other renewable energy technology,” he says. For several years, Potter’s team has successfully run the world’s largest poultry litter-to-power combustion facility, producing 55 MW in Benson, Minn.

But Potter’s company also owns and operates Homeland Biogas Energy LLC, a company that develops large-scale biogas facilities. “AD systems are geared more toward wetter materials such as dairy and swine (manure) with high volatile organic solids,” he says, adding that the process doesn’t meet the needs of the Eastern Shore states to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the litter.

Perdue and Fibrowatt’s Maryland project proposal doesn’t, however, hinge on the poultry litter or even the process technology. It’s more about the typical project dynamics seen in other biomass projects. “The state is the vehicle in which a project creates a predictable cash flow or the mechanism to secure non-recourse project finance debt,” Potter says.

Maryland has agreed to sign a 15- or 20-year power purchase agreement with the project it chooses from the Clean Bay Power RFP. Building a first-of-its-kind facility to learn about the financial project dynamics, and then applying the lessons learned to reduce cost and improve efficiency on future projects is an applicable strategy for Eastern Shore poultry litter projects, according to Potter. Thus, he believes Fibrowatt and Perdue will make a perfect fit for the region, in part because of Fibrowatt’s global experience. “We know the issues associated with biosecurity, with odor control, with combustion, dealing with the high-ash, high-alkaline fuel,” Potter says.

But the Chesapeake Bay report, in combination with other activity in the poultry litter arena, shows the industry can support multiple projects. “Our region has the potential to verify multiple technologies,” says Dion Banks, director of governmental affairs for Cambridge International, the parent company to Cambridge Environmental Technologies, formed in 2007 to develop biomass gasifers that can utilize poultry litter.

Banks has already testified before the Maryland State Senate regarding a bill that would qualify biomass thermal energy systems for renewable energy credits. And Banks and his team have also hosted a roundtable discussion with roughly 30 industry representatives and members of the USDA on the potential of using poultry litter to prevent runoff from the Eastern Shore.

But poultry litter-to-power development isn’t only reserved for those on the Eastern Shore. In Quebec, Biofour Inc. is using a government grant to validate a biomass boiler specifically designed to run on agricultural residues and, of course, poultry litter. A boiler already installed at a poultry litter facility features a two-chambered system that allows for complete combustion, using both the feedstock and the resulting gases (pumped into the second chamber) for combustion.

While some systems are still under development, poultry litter doesn’t have to wait, as Potter has proven with his combustion and AD systems. And Ingersoll and his team are already looking at projects that would mimic the prison’s AD setup. Banks believes that Maryland could be on the cutting edge of technology and project development in terms of poultry litter use and, as the report points out, the entire region has ample opportunity.

Whether it is optimism or insight, Banks and the others just might have it right about poultry litter. “The development of poultry litter-based renewables is an opportunity for the world,” he says.

Author: Luke Geiver
Associate Editor, Biomass Power & Thermal
(701) 738-4944
success of poultry production and require a professional approach.

How many broiler companies are there in the United States, and where are they located?

Approximately 50 poultry companies are currently in operation in the United States. The top 10 integrators account for more than 60 percent of all the broiler production in the country. In the United States, broiler production is found mostly in the southeastern and south central states. Together, these two regions produce more than 85 percent of the United States' broiler meat supply. The five leading broiler production states are Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and North Carolina. These five states currently produce more than 60 percent of all the broilers.
farmingTyson Foods, Cargill, JBS and Smithfield Foods
integrated chicken production

Growing chickens under contract

Today, more than 90 percent of all chickens raised for human consumption in the United States are produced by independent farmers working under contract with integrated chicken production and processing companies. Most of the other ten percent are company-owned farms and less than one percent are raised by individual growers.

The contract growing system provides many farmers an additional source of income outside of crop farming, livestock farming, or production of other agriculture commodities. When growers enter into an agreement with a chicken processor to raise broilers, they get a guaranteed market and thus avoid market risk (that is, the risk of being unable to sell their products or having to sell at a loss). They also have a reliable source of income and access to production resources such as “technical advice, managerial expertise, market knowledge, and . . . technological advances” (ERS, USDA, 1999) provided by the company.

Contract terms vary from company to company; most outline the division of responsibility between growers and contractors. In general the “grower cares for the chickens, and usually provides land and housing facilities, utilities, labor, and other operating expenses, such as repairs and maintenance . . . The contractor provides chicks, feed, veterinary supplies and services, management services or field personnel, and transportation for the birds to and from the farm” (ERS, USDA, 1999).

Through the contract growing system, processors reduce uncertainties in production and marketing by controlling quality and quantity of their products, and diversify their operations to better meet consumer demands of high quality, economical chicken products.

The chicks are hatched at company-owned hatcheries, vaccinated against poultry diseases, and delivered to the grower’s farm, where he (or she) houses them in large, specialized structures called growout houses. The company also delivers feed, which the farmer distributes to the flock through a mechanical system.

When the birds reach market age and weight in six or seven weeks, the farmer is paid on the basis of weight gained by the flock, which is influenced by the farmer’s skill and good management. This incentive system is considered a time-honored way of rewarding growers who do a better-than-average job. Successful farmers are committed to the business and understand the need to improve their facilities and adapt to changing conditions.

A 1997 survey of Delmarva growers conducted by the University of Delaware Extension Service found that 73 percent were satisfied with their business as poultry growers, and 75 percent were satisfied with their relationship with the companies. The vast majority, 88.9 percent, stated they had a good relationship with their flock supervisor, and that their flock supervisors help them become better growers.

Family-run broiler operations are usually part of diversified farms that are often supplemented by non-farm income. Growing chickens is not usually considered a full-time job, and few families expect to earn their total income from poultry. A typical farm will gross about $50,000 to $75,000 per year from poultry ($25,000 per chicken house).

According to Dan Cunningham, Ph.D., of the University of Georgia, broiler growers earn 4.5 to 7 percent on their initial capital investment while the mortgage is being paid off. This compares favorably with the real income rate of return on assets for U.S. production agriculture of 4.1 percent during this period. In other words, contract broiler growers do as well as, or better than, agricultural producers as a whole,” according to Cunningham.

The system has worked well for decades and has kept tens of thousands of families on small farms who otherwise would have had to get out of agriculture altogether. Most companies have waiting lists of people who want to become growers and lists of existing farmers who want to add capacity by building more growout houses.

An important purpose of contracting systems is to “standardize production practices with the goal of producing a homogeneous commodity” (ERS, USDA 1999). With the current system utilized by the industry, chicken producers are producing consistent, high-quality chicken products for domestic and global consumers to enjoy

Roanoke River Fact Sheet:

Annual nutrient pollution removed from the Roanoke River watershed through upgrades of STPs:

Total Nitrogen: 3.2 million lbs.

Total Phosphorus: 514,453 lbs. (as of 2005)

North Carolina, leaking 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River in 2013

Water Rights and Wrongs

Cities run out of water. Wells turn toxic. Fracking gets backing. And a new breed of polluter fouls our most precious waterways. North Carolina has water issues. Will we have enough water? And how will we keep it clean?
by Mark Derewicz

2011, UNC’s Hans Paerl published research showing that nitrate levels in the upper Neuse have improved. But, he says, “We’ve more than made up for that by increases in organic nutrient loading in the middle and lower Neuse. By no means have we met the state’s goal of 30 percent nitrogen reduction. At best, we’re holding our own.”

There are still massive fish kills on the Neuse, including an estimated 200 million dead menhaden in 2009.

In October 2012, after another year of thousands of fish dying in the Neuse, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reported that more than 95 percent of fish kills in North Carolina estuaries are due to low oxygen. The main reason for low oxygen is too much nitrogen in the water system.

Playing chicken
In the 1990s, Paerl and researchers from Duke and NC State worked with the N.C. Coastal Federation to create a natural wetland at North River Farms in Carteret County. Wetlands capture chemical runoff and help filter nutrients before they enter sensitive marine habitats. The ongoing $4.8 million project is funded by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which the N.C. General Assembly created in 1996 to prevent or solve water pollution problems.

Paerl says setting aside more land for buffers between farms and rivers helps trap nutrients. So would little dams in ditches and streams. Better crop rotation would use less nitrogen. “The problem,” Paerl says, “is that nobody wants to give up more land for buffer zones and wetlands and crop rotation.”

In fact, more land is going to bigger factory farms, especially poultry CAFOs, which are home to hundreds of millions of chickens in eastern North Carolina.

NC State extension officers who help farmers comply with the latest regulations and research say that poultry operations properly store the litter in huge heaps for no more than 15 days unless they can keep it under a roof. But longtime North Carolina water-quality activists Rick Dove and Larry Baldwin say they have seen the huge heaps uncovered for longer than 15 days. “When it rains, the waste liquefies and flows into the streams,” Dove says.

Even if poultry CAFOs are perfectly managed, chicken litter still poses significant problems, not the least of which is that it’s high in ammonia. Also, chicken waste, which is spread on crop fields, is very high in phosphorus—another nutrient the Neuse River doesn’t need more of. But crops don’t require phosphorus nearly as much as they need nitrogen.

In 2008, the N.C. Department of Agriculture found that 74 percent of soil samples had high or very high phosphorus levels. An NC State study showed that crops in high-phosphorus zones don’t benefit from additional phosphorus. According to UNC-Wilmington limnologist Lawrence Cahoon, it was phosphorus pollution in the Chesapeake Bay that caused Maryland and Delaware to clamp down on poultry operations, forcing chicken companies to look elsewhere. North Carolina is now the number-two chicken producer in the country.

Sanderson Farms, the third largest chicken-processing company in the United States, opened a large slaughterhouse in Kinston in 2010 and soon after proposed building another less than three miles from the City of Wilson.

Sanderson said it would need 500 chicken houses—millions of chickens a year—in Nash and surrounding counties to feed its slaughterhouse. The company planned on piping nutrient-rich wastewater—from the slaughter of chickens—several miles east to spray it on fields near the Toisnot River, which drains into Wilson’s Toisnot Reservoir, part of the Neuse River Basin. The City of Wilson protested and filed a lawsuit.

A Nash County citizens group joined Wilson in opposition, as did Raleigh’s city council. Thirteen of 14 communities and organizations in the Neuse River Compliance Association sent a letter of concern to the state; the lone dissenter was Kinston. Even Wilson’s large pharmaceutical industry, which aims to expand operations, protested to the governor’s office. The fear was that if Sanderson built the plant, then further urban development would be stunted because the Neuse River can sustain only so much pollution.

In November 2012, Wilson got good news: Sanderson had withdrawn its plan, though in a press release the company said it’s still committed to building a slaughterhouse somewhere.

If somewhere means eastern North Carolina, it’s unlikely the state will be prepared.

Steve Wing, a professor in UNC’s school of public health who studies the effects of swine farms on air quality, points out that “the EPA and the state put regulations in place to deal with CAFOs one at a time. But the real problem is the density of the many CAFOs.”

As with drought mitigation, water-quality management is proving to be so geopolitically complex that local governments, state regulators, and even the courts are having trouble sorting it all out.

“Water flow and pollution don’t honor political boundaries,” says Wilson city manager Grant Goings. “A project in eastern North Carolina can have significant impacts in the Triangle and vice versa. We’re making choices, and people don’t understand the permanency of these choices. We aren’t connecting the dots.”

No one is saying that North Carolina should cease all agriculture in the coastal plain. But factory farming is a relatively new phenomenon with a murky environmental track record, one that UNC researchers and colleagues at NCState have documented. Their data show that waterways are under attack and factory farms are largely to blame.

The jury is in. What the judge will do—what the state can do to protect our water—is unclear.
Richard Whisnant is the Gladys Coates Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Policy in the School of Government. Greg Characklis is a professor and Rebecca Fry is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

Lauren Patterson earned her doctorate in geography from Carolina in 2011. Larry Band, director of UNC’s Institute for the Environment, is the Voit Gilmore Distinguished Professor of geography in the College of Arts and Sciences. Rachel Noble, the director of the Institute for the Environment Morehead City Field Site, is a professor in the Institute of Marine Sciences, the Institute for the Environment, the Department of Marine Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Environmental Science and Engineering.

Hans Paerl is the William R. Kenan Professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, the Institute of Marine Sciences, and the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Mark Sobsey, Director of the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory, is a professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering. Steve Wing is an associate professor of epidemiology in the Gillings School of Global Public Health.

This article first appeared as the cover story for the 2013 January/February issue of The Carolina Alumni Review.

Timberville VA: Sept. 16 2010: TIMBERVILLE, Va. (AP) - Regulators are looking into pungent odors that continue to emanate from a Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plant, despite the installation of equipment to mitigate the smells. Keith Fowler with the Virginia Department Environmental Quality told the Daily News-Record that the agency plans to determine by Friday what action it can take to address the problem. Timberville officials requested the investigation. Town Manager Austin Garber said Wednesday that the smell has been unbearable for the past couple days. The overall quality of life for residents anywhere near the slaughter plant, hatchery or one of the CAFOs will be adversely affected. Of course they will be adversely affected by these operations. To deny this is ludicrous. If you have additional misconceptions to discuss then by all means please bring them to the table, Mr. Ford.

Abusive Poultry Contracts Require Government Action:
The poultry sector is completely dominated by a few large poultry processing companies, known as integrators, that control every step of chicken production — from chicks to cutlets.

Farmers that raise chickens are known as growers; these growers do not even own the birds that they raise and fatten for the processors, often under abusive contracts.

Integrators deliver chicks to the growers, micromanage how the birds are raised, and frequently require the growers to build and upgrade expensive henhouses in order to keep getting contracts. Chickens reach slaughter and processing weight in about six or seven weeks, but loans taken out to build henhouses can last for more than a decade, making many chicken growers entirely dependent on a series of flock-to-flock contracts to repay their debts.

The poultry sector is less like a free market than abject serfdom. Growers are reluctant to defend themselves from abusive practices because integrators can retaliate by cutting off their contracts. Often

there is only one processor operating in any one area, which leaves growers with no other options to sell poultry.
Contracts Require Expensive Capital Investments
Although the poultry contracts only last a few weeks,

growers can be stuck with debt loads that last for five to

15 years.18 Many integrators demand that poultry growers

invest in significant upgrades to broiler houses and other

equipment to secure contracts.19

In 2005, half (49 percent) of poultry growers were required to make these capital upgrades.20 New broiler houses are extraordinarily expensive and can run between $350,000 and $750,000 for the

two houses that most growers use.21

A single large broiler house can cost $300,000.22 Between 2004 and 2006, poultry operators spent $650 million in capital upgrades

to their existing facilities, averaging $38,000 per operator,

with one farm in six investing an additional $50,000.23

For most growers in the Southeast, Arkansas and the Eastern

Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, broiler houses are typically

many times more expensive than the growers’ homes.

Roanoke River Fact Sheet Watershed Facts: Impaired Waters
Size: 6275 sq. miles (4,015,000 acres)16% of VA

Population: around 750,000 Virginians

Counties & Cities: Patrick, Henry, Pittsylvania,

Halifax, Franklin, Mecklenburg, Roanoke,

Bedford, Campbell, Charlotte, Carroll,

Brunswick, Montgomery, Botetourt, Floyd,

Appomattox, City of

Roanoke, Salem, Martinsville, Danville, Bedford

and South Boston.
Geography: Larger tributaries of the Roanoke

River include Little Otter River, Big Otter River,

Blackwater River, Pigg River, Dan River, Smith

River and Banister River. The watershed

includes two major reservoirs. To the north,

Smith Mountain Lake is one of the state’s top

striped bass fisheries. To the south, Kerr

Reservoir offers 49,000 acres of fishing, boating

and camping.

· 1,104 miles of streams and rivers and 66,089 acres of lakes in the watershed are listed as impaired by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Sources of nutrient pollution, bacteria, mercury, PCBs, DDT, and DDE and as Feb 2 2013: Coal Ash from Duke Eneregy Eden, NC coal ash ponds

Annual nutrient pollution removed from the Roanoke River watershed through upgrades of STPs:

Total Nitrogen: 3.2 million lbs.

Total Phosphorus: 514,453 lbs.
North Carolina, leaking 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River

Turkey plant closing in Raeford will eliminate 950 jobs
By David Bracken
dbracken@newsobserer.comMarch 14, 2013

The state’s poultry industry suffered another blow Thursday as House of Raeford Farms announced it will close its turkey slaughtering plant in Raeford that employs 950 people.

The company is also shuttering its turkey hatchery in Rose Hill and ending its relationship with about 140 turkey farmers in eastern North Carolina.

The slaughterhouse is by far the largest employer in Raeford, a city of fewer than 5,000 people just south of Fort Bragg, and its workforce is largely made up of the working poor.
With a low-wealth county like ours, if you lose three or four jobs that’s traumatic, but 950 is a major hit,” said Don Porter, executive director of the Raeford-Hoke Economic Development Commission. “… These are poor people who we’re really going to have to try and find some way to get them back to work. That’s a major concern.”

House of Raeford’s decision is the latest example of how the high price of corn – the main ingredient in chicken and turkey feed – is eroding profits in one of the state’s largest industries. The family-owned company said in a statement that elevated corn prices, as well as falling turkey prices and flat turkey consumption in recent years, have made the business unprofitable.

. Chickens now account for more than 90 percent of House of Raeford sales. Based in Rose Hill in Duplin County, the company will still employ about 2,300 people in North Carolina after the closings, including 400 at a plant in Raeford where they cook turkeys to package and sell in grocery stores.

A valuable N.C. commodity

North Carolina ranks second nationally in turkey production behind Minnesota. The industry accounted for more than $772 million in sales in 2011, making turkeys the state’s third-most valuable commodity behind broilers and hogs. More than 75 percent of the state’s turkeys are produced in just five counties – Sampson, Duplin, Wayne, Union and Onslow.

The economic effects of House of Raeford’s decision will extend far beyond the lost jobs. A similar ripple effect played out when Townsends, another major poultry operator in the state, closed its chicken facilities in Siler City and Mocksville.

In addition to being the largest employer, House of Raeford is also the largest water user in Raeford. City Manager Mike Wood estimated the company accounted for $1 million in water and sewer revenues annually.

“That’s probably 30 percent at least of our water and sewer budget,” he said. “It’s going to be extremely difficult to be able to make that up with a rate increase.”

House of Raeford’s network of turkey farmers also faces an uncertain future. Farmers typically borrow large sums of money upfront to build houses for their birds and are dependent on a processor to provide them with turkeys and turkey feed to keep their operations running.

House of Raeford said it will work with individual growers to see whether they have interest in transitioning to raising chickens. But such a move would require farmers to make significant investments.

“A lot of their turkey grower houses have got a lot of age on them,” said Jesse Grimes, a professor and extension turkey specialist with N.C. State University’s Poultry Science Department. “I’m not sure how many people are going to elect to switch to broilers and invest that much money.”

Violations cost millions in fines
House of Raeford has had its share of worker-related problems.
In 2009, the company agreed to pay a $1.5 million fine and overhaul its hiring practices under an agreement that allowed a subsidiary to avoid prosecution on federal immigration charges. In October, the U.S. Department of Labor said it had caught the company illegally putting minors to work in a hazardous job. Regulators fined the company $12,400 for violating child labor rules at its Teachey plant in Duplin County.

And earlier this month, a federal judge sentenced the company to two years of probation and fined it $150,000 for 10 counts of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act at the Raeford slaughterhouse. The company has also been ordered to pay a special assessment of $4,000.

The violations took place several years ago while the company was subject to a consent order with the city that required House of Raeford to construct a new pre-treatment system. Dave Witter, a spokesman for House of Raeford, said the sentencing played no role in the company’s decision to close the plant.

Two turkey processors left

After its closing, North Carolina will have two turkey processing facilities. Butterball, which is based in Garner and is the country’s largest turkey producer, operates a plant in Mount Olive, and Prestige Farms has one in St. Pauls in Robeson County.

Grimes said House of Raeford’s decision makes sense when you consider turkeys account for a small percentage of the company’s overall business.

“They probably figured if they put the same effort on the broiler side they’ll get better returns,” he said. “Broiler consumption has been pretty steadily increasing whereas turkey consumption in the U.S. and pretty much around the world has kind of been flat for a long time.”

Grimes said because feed accounts for between 75 and 80 percent of the cost of turkey production, producers have few options if they want to stay in business.

“The price of the product needs to go up to support the rise in feed costs,” he said. “If you’re not getting more efficient and you’re not getting an increase in the price of the product itself, it puts a lot of people in a big bind.”

North Carolina ranks second nationally in turkey production behind Minnesota. The industry accounted for more than $772 million in sales in 2011, making turkeys the state's third-most valuable behind broilers and hogs. More than 75 percent of the state's turkeys are produced in just five counties - Sampson, Duplin, Wayne, Union and Onslow. CHUCK LIDDY — 2003 News & Observer file photo

Read more here:

Poultry’s woes in North Carolina

With its announcement Thursday, House of Raeford Farms becomes the latest poultry producer in the state to cite elevated feed costs as a reason for scaling back operations, delaying expansions or closing entirely.

The largest processor to close in North Carolina was Townsends, which filed for bankruptcy in December 2010 and was later taken over by a Ukrainian investor. The Ukrainian shuttered the operations just months after restarting them – again citing corn prices as one of the main reasons – which resulted in the loss of more than 1,000 jobs in Siler City and Mocksville.

The entire cost structure of the poultry industry is based on corn being priced at $3 to $5 a bushel. But prices have remained well above that in recent years and are now hovering around $7 a bushel.

House of Raeford blamed government mandates for ethanol production as the reason corn prices remain high in its press release Thursday. The federal government subsidizes farmers to grow corn for ethanol. Last year’s drought in the Midwest also caused corn prices to soar.

Staff writer David Bracken

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Date: January 14, 2003

10 farmers honored by state for improving water quality
(RICHMOND) - The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation has selected 10 farmers to receive its annual "Basin Grand Winner" recognition for the Clean Water Farm / Bay Friendly Farm Award Program. This is the 16th year for the awards.
Geographically the winners represent the state's major river basins and are chosen by experts from DCR, the state's 47 soil and water conservation districts and other agricultural organizations. The criteria by which they are judged begins with their implementation of a nutrient management plan to ensure that fertilizers and farm chemicals are used appropriately to reduce runoff pollution to nearby waterways.
This year's winners are: Coffey Partnership (Augusta County); E. Allen Newberry - Flatrock Farm (Bland County); Stanley, David and John Hula - Renwood Farms, (Charles City County); Louis Clay - Butterwood Farm (Dinwiddie County); James Newcomb - Liberty Springs Farm (Hanover County); Stanley Lickey Jr. - Delta Farm (Loudoun County); Samuel Wohlstadter - Duck Farm Inc. (Madison County); Ad and Butch Nottingham (Northampton County); Robert Mills Jr. - Briar View Farm (Pittsylvania County); and Helen Johnson - Highland Dairy (Washington County).
"The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is proud to recognize these farm operators' efforts to improve water quality," said Joseph H. Maroon, DCR director. "Their actions, and those of many other farmers, deserve to be commended."
The winners' outstanding farm management and conservation techniques directly improve water quality, both in their communities and throughout the surrounding watershed.
Most of these agricultural producers take part in the state's best management practices (BMP) cost-share program. DCR and Virginia's soil and water conservation districts run the program; DCR pays farmers for using conservation measures that prevent soil erosion, and manage fertilizers, chemicals and animal wastes to control nutrients that impact water quality. At the same time, many of these measures improve farm efficiency.
For information about the Clean Water Farm / Bay Friendly Farm Awards, nutrient management or other conservation programs, contact DCR at (804) 786-.


Editors' note: Farm-specific narrative and photos available from
Lois delBueno at (804) 786-7961 or

Report: Dan River ‘highly toxic’ due to Duke Energy coal ash spill

EDEN, N.C. — A certified laboratory analysis of water samples taken from the Dan River on Feb. 4 reveal that the water immediately downstream of Duke Energy’s ash spill is “contaminated with extremely high levels of arsenic, chromium, iron, lead and other toxic metals” typically found in coal ash, according to a report from Waterkeeper Alliance.

North Carolina's oversight of Duke's coal ash dumps has been under intense scrutiny since a huge Feb. 2 spill at one of the company's facilities turned 70 miles of the Dan River an unnatural shade of battleship gray.

North Carolina, leaking 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River


NC coal ash spill provokes state regulation, but activists ...

Stunning Aerial Photos Show How Factory Farms Ravage the Earth

| November 28, 2014 2:59 pm
Industrial-grade production of livestock animals has become the norm in the U.S. with 99 percent of all farmed animals raised on giant factory farms or CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations).
Tascosa Feed Yard- Bushland- Texas_900
Tascosa Feedyard, Bushland, Texas. Photo credit: Mishka Henner

These feedlots confine thousands of animals in small spaces before they are slaughtered, leading to a litany of abuses: the confinement inflicted on the animals, the use of preventive antibiotics to control the spread of diseases in such close quarters, poor working conditions and worker abuse, destruction of rural communities, small towns and family farms, overconsumption of resources, legendary “manure lagoons” stinking up the countryside holding animal waste unsuitable for fertilizer because of the way they are raised and fed
Randall County Feedyard- Texas_900-1
Randall County Feedyard, Texas. Photo credit: Mishka Henner
British artist Mishka Henner, who has had a longtime fascination with the interaction of human activity and the landscape, was flying over the country looking for satellite images of oil fields when the feed lots caught his eye and he began to photograph them and learn more about them. His photos combine an abstract visual beauty with a visceral revulsion to the activities they depict.
“The feedlots are a brilliant representation of how abstract our food industry has come,” Henner told Business Insider. “It’s an efficient system for extracting the maximum yield from animals. That’s the world we live in now. We want to extract the maximum yield from everything, no matter what business you are in.”

Conorado Feeders- Dalhart- Texas_900

Seven states now have so called “ag-gag” laws which prohibit any kind of filming or recording of these farms, after videos by groups like Mercy for Animals produced an outcry of demands for laws ending the abuses of the CAFOs. Henner did not physically set foot on any of the farms, but he says he’s been warned that his photos might violate these laws and that they are one reason they have not been more widely seen. But you can find out more about his photos and purchase prints here

How Ecological Farming Builds Resilience to Climate Change
Cowspiracy Exposes the Truth About Animal Agriculture
Court Rules Rampant Misuse of Antibiotics on Factory Farms Can Continue

Ag-Gag Bills at the State Level

"Ag-gag" or anti-whistleblower bills are appearing in state legislatures across the country. While crafted to appear reasonable, these measures are designed to prevent the exposure of troubling practices at agricultural facilities.
Where does your state stand on ag-gag?
In 2012, we successfully defeated anti-whistleblower bills in seven states; in 2013, we defeated 11 more. Despite our best efforts, some states have enacted ag-gag laws while others have had ag-gag type laws since the 1990s. Take a look below to see if your state has introduced an ag-gag bill, and take action!
Arizona – Introduced H.B. 2587 in 2014. Failed.
Arkansas Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.
California – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.
Florida – Introduced legislation in 2012. Failed.
Idaho – Passed an ag-gag law in 2014. The law criminalizes unauthorized recording inside agricultural facilities; conviction is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $5000 fine.
Illinois – Introduced legislation in 2012. Failed.
Indiana Introduced legislation in 2012, 2013 and 2014. Bills failed in 2012 and 2013. Introduced S.B. 101 in 2014 which was later stripped of ag-gag-type provisions.
Iowa  Passed an ag-gag law in March 2012 that criminalizes providing false information on an employment application with the intent to record images.
Kansas – Passed the Farm Animal and Field Crop and Research Facilities Protection Act in 1990. It criminalizes “enter(ing) an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera or by any other means” with the intent of causing harm to the enterprise.
Kentucky – Added an ag-gag provision to a pro-animal bill in 2014. Bill died.
Minnesota – Introduced legislation in 2011 and 2012. Failed.
Missouri  Passed an ag-gag law  in July 2012. Mandates that evidence of animal abuse must be turned over to law enforcement within 24 hours, preventing the collection of adequate evidence to show patterns of abuse, neglect or abandonment, and potentially hindering prosecution of abusers.
Montana – Passed an ag-gag law in 1991. It criminalizes “entering an animal facility with the intent to commit a prohibited act, entering an animal facility to take pictures by photograph, video camera, or other means with the intent to commit criminal defamation, and entering an animal facility if the person knows entry is forbidden.”
Nebraska – Introduced legislation in 2012 and 2013. Failed.
New Hampshire – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed. Reintroduced H.B. 110 in 2014. Bill died.
New Mexico – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.
New York – Introduced legislation in 2011 and 2012. Failed.
North Carolina – Introduced a broadly worded employment fraud bill in 2013. NC has a two-year session; in spite of failing to meet the crossover deadline, the bill was resurrected in May 2014 but ultimately failed.
North Dakota – Passed the Animal Research Facility Damage Act, which makes it a class B misdemeanor to “[enter] an animal facility and using or attempting to use a camera, video recorder, or any other video or audio recording equipment.”
Pennsylvania – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.
Tennessee Introduced legislation in 2013, which was passed by Legislature but vetoed by Governor. Introduced legislation again in 2014, which failed.
Utah – Passed an ag-gag law in March 2012. Criminalizes providing false information on an employment application with the intent to record images, preventing an investigator from gaining access to a farm.
Vermont – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.
Wyoming – Introduced legislation in 2013. Failed.

Other states have related statutes that are sometimes called "eco-terrorism" or "animal enterprise interference" laws. Click your home state on the U.S. map posted here to see if it currently has any kind of farm-related anti-whistleblower law on the books.
Join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade to stay up to date on ways you can help! You can also enter your zip code here to look up your governor and state legislators and contact them to ask that they vote against these dangerous bills.

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