Foster Farms is the largest poultry producer in the Western United States, slaughtering five million chickens each week. It has thousands of employees and boasts annual revenue of $1.5 billion from its poultry operations. East Bay Animal Advocates (EBAA
) requested a tour of the company’s chicken farms and was denied. So, EBAA conducted an undercover investigation of Foster Farms' broiler (chicken meat) operations in Merced County, California's top broiler producing county and home of the company’s headquarters. While Foster Farms publicly claims that the "climate is ideal" for their chickens, EBAA found "systematic animal neglect at Foster Farms’ poultry operations." EBAA investigators rescued 39 sick and injured chickens. Following the investigative rescue, EBAA filed an animal cruelty complaint with Merced County Animal Control. The results of the investigation were released online last September when EBAA unveiled fosterfacts.net
, a website dedicated to documenting Foster Farms' treatment of its chickens and workers. In October, hundreds of Foster Farms' workers went on strike at the company's largest chicken plant in Livingston. These workers claimed unfair labor practices ranging from low wages to hazardous working conditions. Interviews with a number of these striking workers were posted at fosterfacts.net.
In February, Foster Farms directly responded to EBAA's website by issuing a "cease and desist" order demanding that "EBAA immediately cancel or transfer the fosterfacts.net website to Foster Farms" and “refrain from any libelous or slanderous activity toward Foster Farms” by March 10. EBAA refuses to back down, claiming their documentation speaks for itself. While Foster Farms continues to threaten litigation, it has not as of yet actually filed as lawsuit. Unfortunately, earlier this year, one Foster Farms' employee was seriously injured and another was killed on the job. The workers' cause did move forward in early April, though, when a federal judge ordered Foster Farms to finally recognize the union at the company's Livingston plant.
Regardless of Foster Farms’ next move, EBAA will continue speaking out, and states that, “The mission of our organization is to reveal cruelty of agriculture in California, and we’ll continue to do that.”
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Previous Indybay Features on Foster Farms' Treatment of Animals and Workers