Sally Lee


About Sally Lee

Since October 2017, Sally Lee serves as RAFI’s first Associate Director. Sally completed a joint master in Agricultural Economics and International Rural Development, assessing farmer risk in American poultry production contracts while at the University of Humboldt in Berlin. She has a background in social justice, including working at RAFI previously for four years with the Agricultural Justice Project, a social justice certification program for farms and businesses. She also worked as the Social Justice Consultant for Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in contributing to the development of the Sustainability Assessments for Food and Agriculture Systems (SAFA) indicators.


Ninety-seven percent of the chicken we eat is produced by a farmer under contract with a big chicken company. In 2015, people consumed 112,000,000 metric tons of chicken globally. That’s an unfathomable quantity. So here’s one way to visualize it: That amounts the weight of two-thirds of all the cars on the road today in the United States—in chickens.  

Big Chicken Companies Own or Control Everything Except the Farm, But Why?


Poultry farmers are a major contributor to the statistics on rising debt levels in American farming. The contracts they have with Big Chicken companies are also the premiere model for production contract agriculture, which is spreading across agricultural industries. As other agricultural industries move in this direction, they are systematically exposing more farmers to higher stakes in debt related risks. The current combination of rising farm debt with decreasing farm income means that farmers are facing a financial squeeze, and that should raise serious red flags about the health and sustainability of our agricultural system.

What Debt in Chicken Farming Says About American Agriculture


For the sixth time, members of Congress in the Ag Appropriations Committee have blocked implementation of regulations to protect farmers through a backdoor measure. But this time, their infamous “GIPSA rider” barely passed in this House committee, as several long-time supporters voted against it. The staff at RAFI, our partners, and thousands of chicken and livestock farmers across the country will work together to get it out of the federal budget for 2017 before it becomes law in October of this year.

VIDEO: U.S. House Passes Anti-Farmer Amendment to 2017 Budget



In a recent House committee meeting, Representative Harris (R-MD) justified a measure that would de-fund USDA’s protection of poultry farmers by citing a few strikingly odd facts: “chicken growers vote with what they decide to do” he said, “there’s a waiting list of 2000.” He also claimed that 94% of growers re-sign their contracts every year, and that thus 94% of growers must be happy. Interesting logic!

RAFI Responds to National Chicken Council Study