OKLAHOMA CITY — Another domino has fallen in the federal antitrust investigation into anticompetitive behavior in the U.S. broiler industry. Pilgrim’s Pride, the second largest U.S. chicken processor, is now the first to plead guilty in a price-fixing and bid-rigging conspiracy that was active from approximately 2012 to 2017.
“Once again, clear evidence of anticompetitive behavior has surfaced in our industry,” said AFR/OFU Cooperative President Scott Blubaugh. “AFR/OFU members, Oklahoma’s agricultural producers and farmers and ranchers nationwide have raised concerns over this seemingly continuous problem of price-fixing many times. Unfortunately, these anticompetitive practices have continued to be a major detriment to our state’s economy for many years.
“I hope the federal investigation continues and its implications reach beyond just the poultry industry. Lack of competition in the marketplace negative impacts both the Oklahomans who produce the protein and the consumers who buy it for their dinner tables. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, at least $361 million of Pilgrim’s Pride’s sales were affected in the scheme to reduce competition in broiler sales. For its role in the scheme, the JBS-owned company has been fined $108 million.
In June 2020, Pilgrim’s Pride’s president/CEO and vice president were indicted for their role in the conspiracy. To date, the federal antitrust investigation has resulted in charges for a total of ten executives and employees at major chicken-producing companies. All have pled not guilty.
Both Pilgrim’s Pride and Tyson Foods have previously agreed to settle class-action lawsuits brought by their customers. Pilgrim’s Pride’s settlement included a $75 million payment; Tyson Foods’ settled on a payout of $221.5 million.
AFR/OFU Cooperative is a membership services organization established in 1905 as Oklahoma Farmers Union. AFR/OFU provides educational, legislative and cooperative programs across the state and serves as a watchdog for Oklahoma’s family farmers and ranchers and rural communities. The organization is actively supportive of the state’s agricultural industry and rural population with membership consisting of farmers actively involved in production agriculture and non-farmers adding their voice in support of AFR/OFU principles.
For more articles out of Oklahoma, click here.