Fusion Network recently aired an illuminating one-hour investigative segment on our client, Craig Watts, and his experience blowing the whistle on top poultry producer Perdue. What started out as a story about Perdue’s deceptive labeling and animal welfare concerns became much more. Craig’s story unveils the struggles that many contract farmers like him face and the risk he takes for speaking out.
Craig is one of 30,000 contract farmers in the U.S. of which produce 93 percent of the country’s chicken. This rare glimpse into the chicken industry through his experience provides key insight on how the most popular U.S. meat product is produced.
According to Craig, Perdue offers what seems like a great contract to farmers. But in reality, it ends up trapping farmers into a cycle of debt. Farmers have little to no say in how to raise the chickens, which are owned by Perdue, and must abide by the company’s demands. By the time they realize the truth of the situation (the financial loss as well as the arguably dehumanizing impacts), it’s nearly impossible to get out and do something else without going bankrupt.
What Fusion’s video piece illustrates is what an industry looks like – one that manipulates, controls and silences the farmers. We are incredibly lucky that Craig was able to break the chains and make sure the truth reached the public.
Unfortunately, Craig’s whistleblowing came at a cost: daily visits and surprise audits from Perdue to intimidate and discredit him. In a bold move, Craig Watts is now suing the company for violating federal whistleblower protection regulations. The Food Integrity Campaign is proud to represent Craig and make sure he doesn’t receive further retaliation.
Help share Craig’s story on social media. The truth is out and Big Chicken can’t hide its injustices any longer.
Sarah Damian is Communications Manager for the Food Integrity Campaign, a program of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) – the nation’s leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organization.