Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

10 ways to show who's boss

Poultry companies hold virtually all the cards in the chicken-growing game. Sometimes they don't follow their own rules or the government's. If a grower is making trouble, companies can silence him effectively -- with little chance of being stopped. Here's a sampling of some tactics that turned up in interviews and sworn testimony:

1 Send the farmer weak, sickly chicks to grow.

2 Deliver less feed than credited, reducing his payments later. If some disappears on the side, don't investigate how that may have cost the grower money.

3 Ask him to put in costly new equipment that pushes him further into debt. Tell him that if he can't make the changes, he won't be able to compete effectively with his fellow farmers.

4 When his broilers are grown, keep them waiting at the scales, where they'll lose weight and the farmer will lose money.

5 Use a damaged scale to get the weight of the truck that delivered the chickens. If the weight is too high, the weight of the chickens will be lower.

6 When it's time to rank the farmers, remove from the competition the fellow who did especially poorly. Don't take out the guy who did really well. That way, everybody has a tougher standard to meet.

7 Add a clause to your contract requiring growers to resolve any disputes through arbitration, effectively nullifying the farmer's ability to sue. If the farmer doesn't want to sign that clause, tell him he'll get no more birds.

8 Tell growers they can't talk to each other; it spreads disease from farm to farm. If they form associations and have meetings, send somebody to sit in and report what was said.

9 If the grower wants to get out of the business by selling his farm, don't offer a contract to the prospective buyer. Ask for new houses instead and offer attractive guarantees to get people to build them.

10 Growers are banding together and planning legislation? Tell the bankers and politicians in your state that the company doesn't have to do business there.

Pub Date: 02/28/99

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad