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Amo Houghton

Hatching hope for farmers : the new pecking order

AS HE TRUDGED through the mud of poultry grower Arthur Holley's Parsonsburg farm last week, Rep. Wayne T. Gil-chrest symbolically crossed into new territory. He and several other members of Congress had journeyed from Washington to take a closer look at something that until recently had gone largely unnoticed -- the demotion of the chicken farmer from ruler of his roost to land-owning serf. In doing so, Gilchrest, a Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, and the others joined a small but growing movement that hopes to change the relationship between the roughly 30,000 U.S. chicken growers and the large corporations that process and market poultry. Escorted by activists such as...