Struggles to Survive Poultry Farming

A grower can spend upwards of a million dollars upgrading his poultry houses and things will not get any better. There will be little or no return on his investment until efforts are made by integrators to improve the quality of chickens and feed and to control the diseases brought onto a farm by the hatchery and live haul areas of production. Dirty chick boxes look like they've never been cleaned and disinfected and the trucks and cages covered with carcasses dripping with maggots are brought into the poultry houses and grounds. These examples of filth are causes of salmonella and dermatitis in poultry.

Growers are now keeping their flocks eight weeks or more. This means utility costs are soaring and mortality rates are oppressively high. There is little or no profit, only excessive work, expense and stress. It is impossible to meet financial obligations on a Class B farm when only two flocks out of six rank average or above.

Rumors are floating around that the order of chick placement has been taken from the hatchery and management has taken over this facet of the operation. Does these mean growers' chick placement can be manipulated and birds placed on certain farms at management's discretion? Will newer or retrofitted farms receive better quality birds and feed (Class A) to show superior production while older or non-retrofitted houses (Class B) will receive inferior birds and feed in order to perform poorly and keep them on the bottom ranking? There are different pay scales for Class A houses and Class B houses yet Class B chickens are being sold to consumers at Class A rates. Each grower should be treated and paid equally.

A few years ago a poultry processor commented that organizations formed by poultry growers would be destroyed. It seems to have occurred very successfully in our state and local organizations. Local growers have been afraid to actively participate in our organization. ConAgra has successfully shut down the operation of Libby Cottrell, the President of our El Dorado Chapter NCPGA. (Was it because she was vocally active in the CPGA and that her farm was paid for?) Will I be next?

Efforts to get laws passed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture have been ignored by Dan Glickman and squashed by lobbyists hired by the poultry corporations. Until laws are enacted by the USDA to control the big corporations and see that "all" contract growers are treated fairly, we will continue to struggle to provide for our families and hang on to our farms.

Grower for ConAgra
El Dorado, Ark.

Weicker's Conn Game

Re: "Weicker Would Keep Reform in Running," by John Nichols, 8/99 PP.

My God, My God, My God what are you chewing, some of Weicker's tobacco? No one in their right mind will recommend the Reform Party running Lowell Weicker for President unless they are really in the enemy's camp. Who knows better the man than those of us who lived under him as our Governor?

Have you forgotten that he campaigned against a state income tax stating to suggest instituting a state income tax was equivalent to throwing gas on a fire to cure the state's fiscal woes and then made the income tax his first matter of business once he was elected.

Have you forgotten he recommended a 50 cents a gallon gas tax so poor people couldn't afford to drive their cars during the gas shortage?

And how about his seat as a director on the board of a tobacco company?

Wake up man and you too, Jesse. This man is as phony as a $3 bill. The quickest way to kill the Reform Party is to nominate this jackass.

Yours truly,

Northford, Conn.

CIA Not Comical

David Morris ["CIA's Record Argues for Abolition," 7/99 PP] would have us believe that the primary reason to scrap the Central Intelligence Agency is that organization's almost comical incompetence.

While this may be true in some instances, I would submit that the main reason to ditch the Company is that they've been all too effective in carrying out and assisting in murder, torture, repression, sabotage (including poisoning of crops and livestock), subversion of democracy, instigation of violence and civil discord, overthrow of legitimate governments and much more.

Since "brevity is the soul of wit," I can't give all the gory details here, but Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Intervention since World War II by William Blum (Common Courage Press, 1995) gives the whole shameful story (at least up to 1995; we'll have to wait for the next edition to get up the full story on what they did in the former Yugoslavia).


Brooklyn, NY

I'll Keep My Guns

I really enjoyed (sort of) Hank Kalet's piece on violence [7/99 PP], and I find myself in reluctant, partial agreement. I've always said the great thing about this place (Oklahoma) is that even social-democratic lefties, like myself, have gun collections. And this is not hyperbole. I consider the Libertarian Party the largest group of selfish maniacs around, but their take on guns (at least part of their take) seems right to me. It goes like this: "If you get rid of weapons, you don't eliminate violence, you just create a situation where the biggest, most animalistic person around is automatically right."

What to do? I don't like violence, but I'm committed to protecting my family, my home, and also myself. Is this wrong? Who knows ... maybe so. Best go help weedeat, love The Progressive Populist, and later.

Mustang, Okla.

No Small Town

I certainly agree with Stacy Mitchell's thesis in the August issue, "Main Street Fights Back." Wal Mart has indeed ruined many a small-town business section.

However, her article gets off to an unfortunate start when she describes Warr Acres as "a town of 10,000" and refers in the same sentence to "the outskirts of town."

Warr Acres is just a part of the very large Oklahoma City metro area, hardly a town in the sense she implies.


Stillwater, Okla.

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