Contract Agriculture Reform

The poultry industry is predicated on the exploitation of people, land, and animals. At RAFI-USA, we focus on the people who labor in this exploitative system and we advocate for them.

Production contracts in agriculture – like often used in poultry and livestock production – can be beneficial when implemented in good faith.

However, from over 30 years of experience advocating for farmers, we know that poultry contracts are not beneficial contracts, and this is not a beneficial system of agriculture. Many farmers who sign poultry production contracts later find themselves in a frightening financial situation. These one-sided contracts between massive companies (integrators) and farmers rely on misinformation and exploitation of land, farmers, and rural communities. This industry leaves many farmers with extreme debt, an inability to cover their costs, bankruptcy, and the possibility of losing their home.

RAFI-USA’s Contract Agricultural Reform program works with the people who labor in this exploitative system and engages in policy advocacy to create alternatives and return vitality to rural communities and farm families.

For more information about what contract agriculture is, click here.

Our Work

Farmer Advocacy:

For 30 years, RAFI-USA has received calls via our Farmer Hotline from contract poultry farmers who are struggling to stay afloat. Commonplace business practices in contract poultry leave farmers with tremendous financial risk and little room for failure. RAFI-USA farmer advocates talk through available options and provide invaluable support as farmers decide what steps to take.

For more farmer resources on contract agriculture, click here.

Policy Work:

We believe that sweeping reforms are necessary to ensure the system of livestock production is beneficial for farmers, the laborers who process the poultry, and the communities that support the industry. Drawing primarily from farmers’ experiences in poultry production, we analyze the social, environmental, and economic impacts of the contract agriculture system. In collaboration with other farm organizations and national coalitions, RAFI-USA uses data and first-hand accounts to make policy recommendations aimed at returning vitality to farmers and rural communities by creating alternatives to this exploitative system.

Read more about our recent policy work here.

Under Contract:

In this full-length documentary, contract farmers tell their stories and industry experts reveal how the corporate production model pits farmer against farmer. Under Contract: Farmers and the Fine Print takes audiences on a road trip from the American South to Southern India to understand what’s happening to farmers living under contract and what we can do to change our food system for the better.

Click here to watch Under Contract and to download the Viewers’ Guide.