05/18/2015 05:43 PM
Several western Kentucky poultry growers are accusing Tyson Foods of rigging a system used to determine how much they’re paid. Ten farmers sued the company in Hopkins County, claiming a tournament system used to pay them is being used against them.
Every tournament has rules. But some chicken growers say the rules are being broken by those who wrote them.
"We think it’s wrong. We think what they’re doing is wrong," says John Whitfield, attorney for the poultry growers.
In a suit filed in Hopkins County court, ten farmers contracted with Tyson say the company is not treating all farmers equally in their tournament system, which is used to pay them over quality of chicks grown.
"The higher up you are in the tournament, the more you make," Whitfield says.
The suit alleges some are being given inferior chicks that can have genetic defects, and inferior items, including animal feed.
"If you get a lot of those, you’re going to get a high mortality rate. and if you have a high mortality rate with that particular flock, you’re going to be at the bottom of the tournament system," Whitfield says,.
The suit also alleges a company bias towards some growers by giving them exemptions from the tournament system. Whitfield says it has a significant impact on pay, because less quality means less money for the farmers.
"There’s no rhyme or reason why one grower has a flock and does the same thing day in and day out, doesn’t make any changes, one week he gets a good check, and the next week he gets a horrendous one," he says.
In a statement, Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman says, "We dispute the claims being made in this lawsuit and intend to vigorously defend our company in court. We will present our evidence in this case in court rather than in the media, but your viewers need to know that Tyson values our relationships with farmers who raise chickens for our company. We want farmers to do well because their success directly affects ours."
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