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Poultry Profits Haven't Reached Growers

by 5m Editor
17 August 2007, at 9:26am

US - Tyson Foods' top performing breeder operations in Hempstead County can barely make ends meet in the face of inflationary pressures that have stripped the businesses of positive cash flow.

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"We value the work our growers do and are continually analyzing the costs of raising chicken because we want our growers to succeed,"

Tyson Spokesman

Linda and Tom Downs of Stamps operate two breeder houses for Springdale-based Tyson Foods Inc. The couple, in their 60s, would like to sell and retire, but say the business model under which they operated for more than a decade is broken.

The Downs' are not alone.

Economic hardships are causing tension between Tyson Foods and its contract growers, also known as poultry farmers. Some farmers, who still owe large debts on farms, are not able to make money on the poultry operation.

More than 100 broiler growers from the Berryville area and two dozen breeders near Hope have petitioned Tyson Foods for a pay raise. A few Berryville farmers have received calls from farmers near Batesville and Springdale with similar concerns over pay.

Farmers say the culprit is the ever rising costs of propane, diesel and electricity, combined with a pay schedule that omits a cost of living adjustment or doesn't keep up with the higher energy costs.

For its part, Tyson Foods officials say they value their growers and understand higher fuel and commodity costs. The company absorbed $120 million in excess grain expenses in the three months ending June 30.

"We value the work our growers do and are continually analyzing the costs of raising chicken because we want our growers to succeed," said company spokesman Gary Mickelson.

Joel and Michelle Wolf of Omaha grow broilers for Tyson Foods' Berryville/Green Forest complex.

Source: TheMorningNews

5m Editor