Georgia Poultry Justice Alliance

During the last 10 years, sales of poultry products increase almost 400% and profits rose 325% to over 2.1 billion a year.  The average poultry farmer, however, (averaging about 71% of all growers) lives below the poverty line.  In Georgia, as in others parts of the nation, poultry is producer under what is called a “vertically integrated system” of poultry production.  Under contracts signed by farmers on a flock to flock basis, the integrators (companies) own the live, healthy birds, provide the feed and veterinary medicines, control the time of grow-out, decide which flock goes to which farm, determine the type of feed, the thickness of the bedding, the temperature of the litter, dictate which equipment must be used and which improvements must be implemented by the farmer.  In contrast, the farmers are responsible for the disposal of dead birds, millions of tons of manure produced each year, labor, maintenance, insurance, taxes, mortgage on their farm, medications and furnish the water, electricity and gas needed to run the farm.  The companies avoid the social, financial and legal responsibility for the pollution of lakes, streams, rivers, and watershed caused by the vast amount of waste generated each year.  Small farms play a judge role in the Georgia economy.  In 2000 there were 50,000 arms and 11,300,000 acres devoted to farming in state.  The viability of these farms is crucial to the rural communities where farmers pay taxed and support the small businesses that sustain the community.  Each dollar the farmer spends generates $2.50 in the community.