Feeding the World with America’s Poultry Farmers
Tyson Foods began as a chicken business, nearly 90 years ago, and today, we are one of the leading supporters of U.S. poultry farmers. We depend on our network of small and independent farmers to supply our plants – and we only succeed when they also succeed.
We have been working with poultry farmers on a contractual basis since the late 1940s. We supply the birds and feed, as well as technical expertise, while the poultry farmer provides the labor, housing and utilities to support the birds. This benefits the farmers because it insulates the farmer from the risk of changing market prices for chicken and feed ingredients such as corn and soybean meal, which represents most of the cost of raising a chicken. So, farmers’ compensation is not dependent on what the feed costs or prices at the grocery store. This benefits American consumers because the incentive-based pay system helps keep the price of nutritious chicken affordable for millions of families and the foodservice industry.
This system has been successfully helping feed America – and the world – for nearly a century. Today, as demand for chicken goes up, it is to our benefit to help all of our partner farmers deliver healthy birds to help meet this demand. When they succeed, our own business does better. In fact, a 2022 study by Agriculture Economist, Dr. Thomas Elam found that the median income of contract poultry farmers was significantly higher than both all farm households and all U.S. households.
Today, we pay nearly $820 million annually to the more than 3,600 poultry farmers who contract with us. Traditionally, companies like Tyson provide incentives to farmers to deliver safer, healthier and better quality chickens: while every farmer gets paid a base rate, farmers who deliver birds above the average standard can receive a bonus that’s based off a points system. Simply put, Tyson pays more for better performance – a concept shared across many industries.
However, we recognize there are other ways to incentivize performance, and so we’ve been piloting different types of payment systems. For example, at our Humboldt, Tennessee facility, farmers get a base rate depending on the size of their poultry barns. They can also receive bonuses depending on the quality and efficiency of their flock.
Respecting our Partners
We respect and value the contribution of the farmers we work with, and have detailed guidance for our relationship in the Tyson Foods’ Contract Poultry Farmers’ Bill of Rights, which we launched in in 2018. Highlights include farmers’ right to:
• Information detailing how much they are paid.
• Discuss their contract with outside parties, including legal counsel.
• A fixed length contract that can only be terminated for cause.
• Join an association of contract poultry farmers.
• Industry leading poultry welfare standards and training on those standards.
We also established a Contract Poultry Farmer Advisory Council so we could have open, transparent communications between poultry farmers and Tyson. One of the outcomes of this council was the creation of an app that gives farmers access to real time information on when the company will deliver chicks from the hatchery or feed to their farms, allowing them time to properly prepare their facilities for the birds.
A Birds Eye View of How Chicken Farmers Are Paid:
This structure – based on the most fundamental elements of any business atmosphere – is the best way to ensure that chicken farmers are rewarded for producing quality chickens in an environmentally sustainable way. It also ensures that the welfare of the birds is the farmers’ top priority.
- TYSON FOODS’ FARMERS PAGE
- CHICKENCHECK.IN – AN INDUSTRY SOURCE
- A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A CHICKEN
- Contract Poultry Farmers’ Bill of Rights
- Poultry Farmer Advisory Council
- FarmCheck® Program
- What is a contract grower? How and why do farmers and chicken companies partner to raise chickens?