Playing chicken with feed prices

Jeremy Aldrich -- March 12th, 2008

Agribusiness giant Pilgrims Pride today announced that it will close a North Carolina poultry plant and many distribution centers, eliminating 1100 jobs around the country. With the announcement came a warning: more sites could be on the chopping block. Pilgrims CEO Clint Rivers blames soaring corn prices for putting the company in the red and said he hopes the plant shutdown will boost chicken prices (not likely, since the Siler City plant only produces a miniscule percentage of the country’s chicken).

Are Shenandoah Valley facilities on the list of “sites being reviewed”? What should we do as a community to deal with the impact of poultry industry problems? What can we as consumers do to deal with the rapidly rising cost of food? And what kind of system do we have when investors reward a company for slashing jobs, further feeding our national economic downturn?

15 Responses to “Playing chicken with feed prices”

  1. finnegan says:

    what kind of system do we have when investors reward a company for slashing jobs, further feeding our national economic downturn?

    That’s the ugly side of American “free market capitalism.” Publicly-traded companies may appear to serve more than one master, but the shareholders always come first.

    I’d say things have not been looking good for the local poultry industry for some time. As far as what we can do about it, the Virginia Poultry Growers Co-op was one local effort to resist corporate downsizing. I don’t know how big it can get, or how viable the VPGC is in the long run.

    I hope co-op efforts like the VPGC and FC2 will flourish. It seems to be the only way to fight the globalized market trends, which are dictated by frenzied traders on Wall Street.

  2. Bubby says:

    Hey, I bought a roasted, ready-to-eat chicken at Costco the other day for like $5. That is a good deal. In fact it sounds so cheap that a small independent farmer wouldn’t be able to compete against the industrial producers.

    Industrial poultry looks to be going the way of furniture and textiles – offshore. I mean, how much could a poultry worker be making at those prices?

  3. townie says:

    Unfortunately efforts like the VPGC don’t have the depth and the capital to weather storms like AI outbreaks – they’ve had to call on the big players to bail them out every time. But they are a great alternative to plants being completely shut down by the big players.

    Poultry workers make good money. The speed at which large volumes of chicken can be processed plays the biggest role in keeping consumer prices down, but I bet the poultry company made less of a profit off of that $5 rotisserie b/c of the current market. Problem is, if they charge what they really need to, you might not have bought it.

  4. Frank J Witt says:

    We bought 3 cases of pre-seasoned whole fryer (baking) chickens with 8 birds in each case at Pilgrims Pride in Timberville for a whopping $8.00 a case. Call them if you think you might know someone who can use a great tasting CHEAP meal or 8…they average about 5 pound per chicken.

  5. Tom says:

    You can blame this on the green movement and gov subsides for growers of corn for ethanol instead of food.

  6. Bubby says:

    Its all good Tom. I just got back from the third world and we found that you could easily pick out the Americans – they’re all well fed (which is a polite way of saying “fat”). But don’t worry the Germans were even fatter.

  7. finnegan says:

    TV3 ran this story yesterday:

    So far no plants in the valley are closing, but Pilgrim’s Pride distribution centers in Broadway and Moorefield, West Virginia, will now only process chicken and not turkey.

  8. Gxeremio says:

    I don’t think the Pilgrim’s plants around here processed turkeys anyway.

  9. finnegan says:

    That’s what I thought, too. I thought that’s why the VPGC was formed.

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