The National Chicken Council urged Congress today not to tinker with the laws governing the relationships between growers and the integrated companies whose chickens they produce under contract.
“Today’s and tomorrow’s market forces compel U.S. agribusiness to work across the links in the food chain to grow the opportunities for all,” said NCC Senior Vice President William P. Roenigk in testimony to the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Related Agencies of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “It is not a time to legislate and regulate about how best to arrange the links in the food chain.”
The contractual relationship between contract growers and the chicken companies is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration (GIPSA), Roenigk said, and was reviewed by Congress in 1987. Noting has occurred since then to warrant a Congressional overhaul, Roenigk said.
He noted that private actions for breach of contract and statutory provisions protecting growers are available to enforce contracts and protect the rights of all parties in the contractual relationship.
“GIPSA, together with other government agencies, has more than adequate authority to ensure fair dealing within the poultry industry,” Roenigk said.
He noted that world demand for U.S. agricultural products is increasing at a rapid rate, with food products accounting for an increasing share of total exports.
“The United States must maintain and improve a regulatory, legislative, and economic environment that will permit agribusiness to create, connect, and grow to meet this world demand for animal agriculture products,” he said.
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce, process and market chickens. Member companies of NCC account for more than 90 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.