Tyson Foods, one of the four major poultry producers in the United States, has recently been a major topic of media discussion for its alleged inappropriate treatment of animals. According to an animal support group, Compassion over Killing, the company as been repeatedly involved in animal abuse practices. Compassion over Killing has recently released video footage that shows managers and other upper level professionals who are employed by Tyson Foods eliminating chickens in inhumane ways. The release of the video has caused Tyson Foods to release several statements. During their latest interview about this topic, Tyson Food representatives have announced that they have fired the individuals who were shown in the videos and that they are not an adequate representation of the way that Tyson Food engages in everyday practices with animals.
In the wake of the Tyson Foods investigation, a major discussion has been sparked regarding the treatment of animals in the poultry industry. Because chicken is the most massively produced animal in the world and is consumed at a rate of about 80 million chickens per week in the United States alone, any reports of problems within the industry have the ability to create massive problems. Scientist have studied the poultry industry and the routines that they engage in to mass produce chickens. They have revealed several major problems within the industry.
One of the main problems in the poultry production companies is the amount of poultry that is produced in a given calendar year. The amount of chicken that is supplied to consumers is simply not able to be supported by humane systems. Because production companies are seeking to produce an obscene amount of chickens, and are developing chickens that are unnaturally large, it is almost impossible to meet company standards by raising chickens in a natural way. More information regarding the treatment of chickens in the poultry industry and the investigation of Tyson Foods can be found here. This investigation is ongoing and may not be complete for several months.
Could the United States be facing an economic crisis in the agricultural industry similar to the farmers’ debt crisis in the 1980s? There is the possibility that it may happen when we observe the events that occurred during those times. Farmers were consumed in debt which caused them to lose their land, equipment and homes. It affected global economies because of incurred loan debts and decreased assets value. The same thing happened in the mortgage industry beginning in 2007, which resulted in homeowners and entrepreneurs losing their assets.
In the 1980s, farmers relied on bank loans to purchase new equipment and inevitably increased prices for their farm products, such as chickens and turkeys. The profitability margin increased for many farmers, but only lasted for a little while. The agricultural debt in the U.S. increased to more than $350 billion by the end of 1981. Farmers were heavily in loan debt with low value of assets. According to The Huffington Post, over 60,000 farmers lost their farm and homes between 1981 through 1986.
It appears that farmers who raise poultry, including chickens and turkeys are subjected to loan debt compared to large chicken factories. Companies, such as Perdue and Tyson contract with farmers to produce the products. The poultry farmers obtain loans and put their whole possessions up for collateral without knowledge of the outcome. Just because the interest rates are low during the time of the loan, the Federal Reserve can interest rates at any time.
But, what happens when farmers have to refinance at a higher interest rate? It causes financial stress, risk, and burden on the farmer and his or her family. To start a chicken farm business, the entrepreneur needs approximately $1 million or more in capital. That’s an enormous debt for farmers considering one chicken is sold at approximately five cents per pound. So, who’s really bringing in high revenue, the chicken companies and manufacturers.
Farmers incur mostly financial debt and risk, rather than profits when they use their assets as collateral to receive loans from banking institutions. The banks are protected by federal government agencies, including Farm Service and Small Business. Who is protecting the farmers when they are encouraged to get loans and eventually default? Maybe the government can do something to start protecting the farmers who do all the hard work to raise chickens and turkeys.