Supreme Court rejects chicken buyer appeal

Ruling allows producers to continue sharing settlement information.

Joshua Baethge, Policy editor

January 9, 2024

1 Min Read
Joshua Baethge

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from chicken purchasers regarding their ongoing anti-trust lawsuits against poultry producers. The Court issued its ruling without comment.

The group of chicken buyers accuses major producers of anti-competitive practices like price-fixing, bid-rigging and sharing competitive information. They say those actions have artificially inflated chicken prices since 2008. Last summer, a federal judge narrowed the timeframe of those allegations to the period between 2008 and 2009 as well as 2011 to 2012.

Monday’s High Court ruling involved a Judgement Sharing Agreement between multiple producers. Those producers, including Case Farms, Claxton, Foster Farms, Harrison Poultry, House of Raeford Farms, Koch, Mar-Jac, Mountaire Farms, Perdue, Pilgrim’s Pride Sanderson Farms, Simmons, Tyson Foods, Wayne Farms, have agreed to share the details of their settlement agreements with each other.

The chicken buyers group contends this puts them at a disadvantage, potentially driving down the amount of future settlements.

In May 2022, a Federal District Court Judge ruled that the Judge Sharing Agreement did not put purchasers at a competitive disadvantage. An appellate court upheld the ruling last June.

So far, purchasers have reached settlement agreements with multiple processors totaling more than $284 million. Last week, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced a $460,000 settlement with House of Raeford to resolve legal claims against it. It was the sixteenth chicken processing company to settle with that state.

However, not all cases have been settled out of court. In October, an Illinois federal jury rejected claims that Sanderson Farms had conspired with its competitors to raise prices.

About the Author(s)

Joshua Baethge

Policy editor, Farm Progress

Joshua Baethge covers a wide range of government issues affecting agriculture. Before joining Farm Progress, he spent 10 years as a news and feature reporter in Texas. During that time, he covered multiple state and local government entities, while also writing about real estate, nightlife, culture and whatever else was the news of the day.

Baethge earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of North Texas. In his free time, he enjoys going to concerts, discovering new restaurants, finding excuses to be outside and traveling as much as possible. He is based in the Dallas area where he lives with his wife and two kids.

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