Contract Agriculture Reform

Production contracts aren’t necessarily the problem. The real problem: The way the industry and the corporate monopsony powers—the few who control the majority of the market—use these contracts to primarily benefit their bottom line and shift production risks onto farmers.

At RAFI, we believe contract farming can be useful for farmers to reduce their risk and plan cash-flow. RAFI supports the use of transparent and fairly negotiated contracts in many agricultural transactions, including with employees or buyers.

However, many livestock production contracts, like those designed for broiler growers, can be misleading and complex. Many farmers who sign these contracts find themselves in a bad financial situation a few years down the road. At RAFI, we have worked with contract poultry growers for more than 25 years and have heard many stories of long-term debt, unpredictable and highly variable pay, small or negative revenues and bankruptcy.

Because we stand by and value our farmers, we seek to protect them with just and equitable contracts. RAFI works closely with contract livestock producers across the Southeast to understand the good and bad experiences of contract farming. Drawing primarily from farmers’ experience with poultry production contracts, we provide analysis of the long-term social, legal and economic impacts of the contract agriculture system and possible viable alternatives. In collaboration with other national farm and community organizations, RAFI takes the data and first-hand accounts, and fights for reforms to protect the family farmer who turns to contract production.

If you are considering signing a poultry or livestock production contract, or if you currently have one, the most important step to protecting your farm is to know the risks. Review our resources and guides for contract farmers.

Have questions or need help? Contact us.

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Poultry Growers on the John Oliver: This Week Tonight Show

In May 2015, HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver featured a segment on chicken farmers and the poultry industry. They also featured footage from RAFI’s documentary, Under Contract, on the show. RAFI has a long history working with poultry farmers for reform in contract agriculture, and we’ve put together some research to give you a quick overview of the data behind the issues highlighted in the show. Read our viewers guide to the show to get all the details.