‘Last Week Tonight’ Gives One-Sided View of Partnership between Farmers, Chicken Companies

May 18, 2015

The National Chicken Council released the following statement in response to a “Last Week Tonight” episode about contract poultry farming in the United States:

Chicken companies work closely with their farmers to build relationships based on a shared goal of success, and these relationships have helped family farms thrive in an otherwise shrinking industry.  According to a University of Delaware survey, 75 percent of farmers were satisfied in their relationship with the chicken company, and 73 percent were satisfied with business overall.  Most companies have contracted with farmers for 12+ years on average, if not several generations, and maintain waiting lists of farmers who want to raise chickens for them.

This system has allowed us to insulate farmers from the risk of changing market prices for chicken and feed ingredients such as corn and soybean meal, which represent the vast majority of the cost of growing a chicken. In other words, farmers are guaranteed a consistent price for their efforts, no matter what the markets are doing.  The system has worked well for decades and kept tens of thousands of families on farms who otherwise would have had to get out of agriculture altogether.  It makes no economic sense for a company to do anything to jeopardize farmers from growing the healthiest chickens possible. Raising top quality birds produces wholesome chicken, and paychecks, for both farmers and the companies.

These livestock and poultry procurement and marketing practices are all regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), which administers and enforces the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect farmers, ranchers and consumers.

This segment, unfortunately, presents a completely one-sided view of U.S. poultry production and is not an accurate reflection of the overwhelming majority of the 25,000 farm families who partner with chicken companies.

To read more about the partnership between chicken companies and farmers, and what other farmers say about the system, click here.


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