Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why Hillary’s Favorite Chicken Company is Eying China

No one has ever accused Tyson Foods of being green.

Even as the Springdale, AR-based meat giant’s probation ends for 20 federal violations of the Clean Water Act at its Sedalia, MO chicken plant in 2003–it paid a $7.7 million fine–it is back in court.

In an unfolding trial in Tulsa, OK, Tyson is accused by the state of Oklahoma, along with Cargill Inc. and a dozen other poultry companies, of violating state and federal laws limiting the disposal of animal waste in the Illinois River watershed.

Tyson and the other accused companies treat Oklahoma’s rivers, “like open sewers,” says State Attorney General Drew Edmondson, dumping into the watershed in one year the amount of phosphorous that would be generated by 10.7 million people.

But Tyson has more troubles than being on the wrong side of the Clean Water Act.

In July, it was fined $339,500 by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for “serious, willful, repeat and other-than-serious violations of safety and health standards” at its Noel, MO plant.

In January, it settled a financial wrongdoing suit brought by Tyson shareholders and Amalgamated Bank that charged it with spring-loading options–a maneuver similar to backdating–for $4.5 million.

And then there’s production.

Tyson had planned to capitalize on the $13 billion natural foods market, oxymoron aside, by marketing chicken “raised without antibiotics” and even launched its web site and PR machinery.

But the Department of Agriculture ruled the ionophores Tyson uses in chicken production are antibiotics over Tyson protests that ionophores don’t cause human antibiotic resistance and the venture went nowhere.

This year it announced the closure of a 400-person Wilkesboro, NC chicken plant–“Growing consumer demand for ready-to-eat foods” has edged out “refrigerated, oven roasted chicken,” it says–and the end of slaughter operations at its 1,700-person Emporia, KS beef plant. Two years ago it shuttered slaughter plants in Boise, ID, and West Point, NE.

Of course it is no secret that it’s hard to find legal workers for meat plant jobs.

But in 2001 a federal grand jury charged Tyson with actually operating an elaborate illegal worker smuggling scheme–paying undercover agents for delivery of workers to Tyson plants across the country and providing them with fake Social Security and other identification cards. Tyson even paid smugglers who helping aliens across the Rio Grande with corporate checks according to the 57 page indictment.

But Tyson was found not guilty.

Nor did charges brought by employees Birda Trollinger, Robert Martinez, Tabetha Edding and Doris Jewell that Tyson violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by knowingly hiring illegal immigrants who were willing to work for wages below those acceptable to Americans stick the following year.

“This is a company with a bad history,” the Rev. Jim Lewis, an Episcopal minister in Arkansas, told the New York Times. “They cheat these workers out of pay and benefits, and then try to keep them quiet by threatening to send them back to Mexico.”

Of course there’s something worse than illegal employees: undercover ones.

In December 2004 and February 2005, an undercover investigator with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) gained employment at Tyson’s Heflin, AL chicken plant and videotaped workers ripping off chickens’ heads manually, malfunctioning throat-cutting machines which mutilated birds and a plant manager saying it was acceptable if up to 40 birds per shift were scalded alive.

Two years later undercover employees at Tyson’s Cumming, GA and Union City, TN plants documented additional atrocities and workers urinating in the live-hang area.

Tyson responded by firing several workers at the Cumming and Union City plants–it wouldn’t say how many or if any were managers–and disciplining and retraining others in animal welfare.

But the 2003 disclosures of its own employee, Virgil Butler, who worked at its Grannis, AK plant for five years suggest a pattern of abuse. Butler described birds scalded alive, left to freeze to death and exploded with dry ice by employees for their amusement.

Some say Tyson’s “Teflon” conviction history bespeaks friends in high places.

Who can forget the charges that it bribed agriculture secretary Mike Espy with gifts to influence legislation in 1997 leading to his disgraced resignation? Tyson paid $6 million to settle the accusations but the two convicted Tyson executives facing prison time were pardoned by Clinton.

But Tyson officials see it differently.

“If we’ve got all this political power, how come the government keeps doing this to us?” asked former chief marketing officer Bob Corscadden.

Now Tyson is capitalizing on unmet demand for chicken in China by opening Jiangsu Tyson Foods in Haiman City, near Shanghai, which will produce 400,000 birds a week at first with plans to increase production to 1 million birds a week.

Richard Bond, Tyson’s president and chief executive says the company intends to become, “the first producer to deliver brand name, high quality fresh chicken to consumers in the eastern China market.”

Nor does it expect regulatory problems.

MARTHA ROSENBERG is staff cartoonist on the Evanston Roundtable. She can be reached at mrosenberg@evmark.org

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail