[Marxism] chicken run - bookforum.com / current issue

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Apr 2 07:12:40 MDT 2014

Chicken Run
A new book examines how one agribusiness giant remade the American meat 
Jessica Valenti

Leonard claims that the Tyson firm has essentially made modern 
sharecroppers out of American poultry farmers by a relentless drive to 
vertically integrate all the company’s operations. The process began 
under the leadership of Don Tyson’s father, John, and built to the point 
where the firm controlled “every point in the chain of production where 
someone else might have made a profit.” Today, Tyson makes the feed, 
hatches the birds, gives them to farmers to raise, then picks them up 
for slaughter and processing. Farmers have no control over the quality 
of the feed or birds, and are beholden to Tyson in all that they do. 
Tyson also worked with banks to ensure that farmers were given huge 
loans, creating what Leonard calls a new generation of “indentured farmers.”

Tyson even pits farmer against farmer in a “tournament” for best 
standing with the company, an agricultural version of the Hunger Games 
that puts old farms out of business as newer farms—outfitted with more 
generous loans and bigger equipment—take their place. (Of course, those 
new farms eventually become old farms, too, losing their standing with 
the company as soon as a more robust competitor comes along.)

full: http://www.bookforum.com/inprint/021_01/12989

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