Chicken Industry

US chicken farms face closure

It is not only South African poultry farmers that are in trouble. A report in Newsbreak in the United States highlighted the plight of chicken farmers in a part of rural Virginia where the food giant Tyson Foods is closing a processing plant.

Some 55 farmers across 13 counties with a combined 278 chicken houses are preparing to go out of business, the report said.

One farmer, Roger Reynolds, said his family had been in the poultry business since 1986, and it was a third-generation career.

Reynolds will be paid out for the remainder of his four-year contract with Tyson. This is one of the buyout options Tyson has offered, including lump sum payments.

Steve Bowen, chairman of the local county board of supervisions and local mayors have appealed to the Virginia governor to bring in a company to replace Tyson and help the poultry farms survive.

“We lost all our tobacco farmers, and then there was no more dairy farmers in Southside Virginia. And now were talking about our poultry farmers,” Bowen said.

Whether or not those efforts succeed when the processing plant closes in May, the farmers and contract growers have all been offered severance packages by Tyson. 

In South Africa, small-scale farmers are going out of business because of rising costs, while the government refuses to compensate them for healthy chickens it ordered them to cull to prevent the spread of bird flu, and ignores calls to remove value added tax (VAT) from chicken portions or poultry feed.