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Published May 21, 2010, 04:51 PM

Farmers tell feds poultry companies control them

NORMAL, Ala. — Chicken farmers are telling federal officials in Alabama that they lack power and have little ability to deal with the big poultry companies that control the industry.

NORMAL, Ala. — Chicken farmers are telling federal officials in Alabama that they lack power and have little ability to deal with the big poultry companies that control the industry.

The farmers testified Friday at Alabama A&M University, where the U.S. Departments of Justice and Agriculture held a hearing on competition in the chicken industry.

Fifty-seven-year-old Gary Staples of Steele raises birds for Pilgrim’s Pride, one of the nation’s biggest poultry companies. He says farmers are seeing poultry companies demand more but pay less.

Richard Lobb, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council trade group, says the hearing was skewed with testimony from unhappy farmers but many are satisfied with contracts that allow them to sell a steady supply of chickens.

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