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Citing Domina, Taylor, Pew Charitable Trust Releases Major Study on Broiler Chicken Industry

Domina Law Group pc llo

Citing Domina, Taylor, Pew Charitable Trust

Releases Major Study on Broiler Chicken Industry

December 27, 2013

A major study by the Pew Charitable Trust examining 50 years of data and citing 2010 publications by co-authors David Domina, Omaha and Robert Taylor PhD Auburn University, makes strong suggestions for environmental reform in America's chicken industry. The report was released December 20.

Domina's co-author, Auburn University's well known agricultural economist Dr. Robert Taylor served on the advisory committee that authored the new Pew Report.

A previous Pew Foundation Report, "Big Chicken: Pollution and Industrial Poultry Production in America,"[1] examined 50 years of data to take a fresh look at industrial poultry production and to make policy recommendations for managing chicken waste to mitigate its toll on land and water.

The new Publication takes a closer look at the highly integrated chicken contract production system, and what it means for the environment and the growers who raise America's broiler chickens.

The new 52 page report entitled The Business of Broilers [2] makes a series of findings about consequences for the environment of large scale, production of chickens. Among the findings:

  • Large processing plants benefit from nearby large- scale growing operations but force regional concentration and density of broiler waste materials. This density makes sound broiler waste management increasingly difficult due. In many cases this has led to contamination of local streams and lakes. Protecting water resources from poultry waste requires a wider look at processing plants and all associated chicken-growing operations.
  • Concentration is destroying opportunities for producers. Few growers are able to make a living solely from the broiler business. A 2001 study by the National Contract Poultry Growers Association and USDA revealed that 71 percent of growers who rely solely on their chicken farming operations for a living must live below the poverty line. They cannot afford proper waste management. Poultry processors who contract with them are seldom held legally responsible for cleanup. Proper waste management will require increased accountability from processing companies and a reasonable level of financial, technical, and other support for growers.
  • Poultry processors contract with individual farmers to tend company-owned birds under detailed specifications. Each processor has unique and changing requirements for barn size, ventilation, watering systems, and other equipment. Yet, they make disadvantaged growers pay for these costly fixed assets. Even the most profitable growers are forced to bear heavy debt. Poultry production that protects the environment must pay growers fairly and supply enough resources for them to handle environmental protection costs.

In conclusions that are consistent with Domina and Taylor's 2010 findings, the 2013 Pew Charitable Trust Report recommends action to correct some of the most persistent problems of contract poultry production. The proposed reforms, which are detailed in the Report, are:

  • Poultry processing companies should share responsibility for the waste products that are generated by poultry processing.
  • The cumulative environmental effect of concentrating poultry production within a limited geographic area should be considered when siting or enlarging processing plants.
  • Reform and oversight of the contract poultry production system is needed to ensure that poultry growers can make well-informed decisions that protect the environment and public health.

Pew concluded that "these reforms will not come easily, but if adopted, they can help to create a more sustainable future for an American food staple".

"I am proud of Dr. Taylor's contributions to this effort and honored to have been able to co-author important pieces of agricultural literature with him," Dave Domina said. Domina and Taylor co-authored major studies of the Beef, Pork, Poultry and retail food industries and published a widely cited compendium study on problems with concentration in agriculture.[3]

Both Domina and Taylor were selected as participants in panels that led discussions at joint seminars held by the USDA and the US Department of Justice, and attended by The U S Attorney General and the US Secretary of Agriculture in 2010. Domina and Taylor's publications have been cited hundreds of times as major contributions to the study of the effects of concentration on families, farming, and rural communities.

________________________________________

[1] Big Chicken: Pollution and Industrial Poultry Production in America

[2] The Business of Broilers

[3] Domina, Taylor, The Debilitating Effects of Concentration in Markets Affecting Agriculture, 15 Drake J Agric L 61 (2010).

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