Flickr/Walt Stoneburger

Farm Policy

A feathered subpoena. Tyson Foods, one of the nation’s largest poultry processors, is being subpoenaed by the Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC), Reuters reports. The company mentioned the development in the “Contingencies” section of its latest 10-Q earnings report, filed Monday.

The claim is that industry-wide efforts, enabled by the data clearinghouse Agri Stats, allowed poultry companies to artificially raise prices by reducing the chicken supply.

“We are cooperating with the investigation, which is at an early stage,” the report said. “Based upon the limited information we have, we believe the investigation is based upon the allegations in In re Broiler Chicken Antitrust Litigation.”

We’ve covered the cases in question before, but here’s some brief background: in September, poultry buyers—including New York State meat distributor Maplevale Farms—filed class action suits alleging that Tyson and other leading poultry companies colluded to raise chicken prices. The claim is that industry-wide efforts, enabled by the data clearinghouse Agri Stats, allowed poultry companies to artificially raise prices by reducing the chicken supply—an effort that required plant closures, strategic egg exports, and the termination of whole flocks of breeding hens. The case, which Tyson is moving to have dismissed, is separate from another ongoing class action I reported on last week, which alleges Tyson, Pilgrims Pride, Sanderson Farms, and others also used Agri Stats to lower prices—this time, at the other end of the supply chain, on the farm.

Joe Fassler bio

Joe Fassler

Joe Fassler is The New Food Economy's features editor. His food safety and public health reporting has been a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Award in Journalism. Follow him @joefassler. Reach him by email at: joe.fassler@newfoodeconomy.org

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