A lawsuit against 19 chicken producers was announced today by Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, accusing them of engaging in an extensive illegal conspiracy to inflate and manipulate prices, rig contract bids, and coordinate supply reductions to maximize profits, according to Seattle Times.
Lawsuits Against 19 Companies
The lawsuit was filed in King County Superior Court. Ferguson had stated that the conduct shown is a violation of Washington Antitrust Laws and the Washington Consumer Protection Act. According to Newsweek, between 2008-2009 and 2011-2012, the lawsuit claims that the firms conspired to limit production and thereby influence chicken pricing.
About 95 percent of the “broiler” chickens marketed in the US are produced by the 19 corporations cited in Ferguson’s complaint. This term refers to practically all chicken produced for human consumption and is used for everything from chicken breasts, chicken nuggets, and chicken sandwiches.
Between 2008 and 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that broiler chickens produced in the United States had a wholesale value of between $21 billion and $33 billion yearly.
Ferguson Seeks Reimbursement
About 7 million people or 90 percent of consumers in the state of Washington buy chickens raised by these enterprises. The companies’ illegal activities also had an impact on local Washington businesses, universities, hospitals, and nursing homes, according to the released statement.
“This conspiracy cost middle-class and low-income Washington families more money to put food on their table. I will hold these companies accountable for the profits they illegally made off the backs of hardworking Washington families.”
Ferguson is seeking reimbursement for Washington consumers and businesses, as well as civil fines, in addition to putting an end to the companies’ conduct. Ferguson claims that Washington households and businesses overpaid for chicken by millions of dollars due to the corporations’ behavior. Additionally, the corporations face millions of dollars in civil penalties for their crimes.
The following are the companies cited in Ferguson’s complaint account for approximately 95 percent of the broiler chicken market as a whole: Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., Sanderson Farms Inc., Perdue Farms Inc., Koch Foods Inc., Foster Farms LLC, Mountaire Farms Inc., Wayne Farms LLC, Amick Farms LLC, George’s Inc., Peco Foods Inc., House of Raeford Inc., Fieldale Farms Corp., Case Foods Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry, Claxton Poultry Farms, Simmons Foods Inc., O.K. Foods Inc., and Harrison Poultry Inc.