Chicken Industry

Chicken dumping hits contract growers

First published in the Business Day (“LETTER: Chicken dumping hits contract growers”, 23 June 2020).

I agree with Francois Baird that antidumping tariffs are urgently needed (“Chicken dumpers waiting in the wings”, June 8). Dumping also affects contract growers like us, who raise chickens on behalf of well-known companies such as Daybreak.

Businesses like ours allow those companies to deliver large amounts of quality chicken to consumers. We receive chicks from the company and “babysit” them for 33 days until they reach slaughter weight, when the company buys them back.

It is challenging but rewarding to keep a batch of 410,000 little chicks alive and healthy from arrival to departure, warm enough in winter and cool enough in summer, eating and drinking enough to reach their goal weight.

We are one of about 480 contract growers in SA, and we employ hundreds of people between us. At my farm near Delmas I have 13 workers, who each support a family. In the rural areas where we farm, work is scarce, so losing a job can cause real suffering. But I can only guarantee employment to my workers if I know the chicks I raise will be bought by the producer at a fair price, with enough cycles to keep my business going.

This is where dumping from Brazil, Europe and America becomes my problem, because it hurts the market that the meat I produce is meant for.

Over the last few years the market has become smaller, because there is cheap meat from overseas in the shops. This reduces the demand for what I offer. Dumped chicken fills shops that should sell good chicken produced in SA, to stimulate our economy and feed our people.

Chicken that comes in from overseas at unnaturally cheap prices destroys our chances and causes more hardship for our people. Dumping must be stopped.

Gugu Mkhatshwa

Owner, Poultry Harvest; member, SA Poultry Association