Poultry Growers, Caught Between Strict Rules And Financial Risk, Lean Heavily On Government-Backed Loans

After 20 years, Mississippi chicken farmer Kevin Kemp is getting out of the chicken business. He raised millions of pounds of chicken since 1996, alongside his father and brother. But Kemp said even though he’s done well as a poultry grower, raising chickens is “not all it’s cracked up to be.”

“The chicken industry has been good to a lot of people around here,” Kemp said. “It just got to the point where I didn’t enjoy raising chickens, because you had to put up with too much crap from the integrator.”

By “integrator,” Kemp means the big poultry companies, which deliver chickens to farmers as chicks, and pick them up six to eight weeks later as full-grown birds, ready to be slaughtered and sent to restaurants and grocery stores. Kemp has experienced the immense control poultry companies put on growers – how they care for the birds, the way payments are determined, even dictating when growers replace equipment.

Hear The IowaWatch Connection Report: Immigration And Fear

The clock is ticking down toward expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, provisions. At issue — what to do with so-called DREAMers, people who were brought to the United States from other countries at an early age without documentation but who since have been educated in U.S. schools and consider this country to be home. Madeleine McCormick, a fourth-year student majoring in digital media at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, reports on the topic of immigration by talking with police officers, lawyers, DACA recipients and DREAMers.