Nacogdoches poultry growers sue Pilgrim's Pride

White was cut off from growing poultry.
White was cut off from growing poultry.
In East Texas alone, 54 farms have filed a lawsuit.
In East Texas alone, 54 farms have filed a lawsuit.

EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - A number of East Texas poultry growers named in a recent lawsuit are going to the

Marshall proceedings.

Some have already given depositions.

Each one has a different story of hardship.

Steve White rarely visits the poultry houses he once loved to maintain.

"I try to avoid coming to 'em as much as possible because of the thoughts it brings back and does," said White, a former Pilgrim's Pride grower.

The 16 year venture started out well enough. White and his wife successfully operated 16 poultry houses for pilgrim's.

"The first year I was in it I was the second grower from being top grower of the year," said White.

Four years later, around 2004, Pilgrim's began requiring growers to convert conventional poultry housing to more efficient, but very expensive ventilated tunnel houses.

"My part was going to be an additional million dollars to the existing loans I already had at that time," said White.

The couple tried to sell the farm, but the conventional housing wasn't marketable. He knew what happened to farmers who didn't meet the company's demands.

"If you hadn't modified already, that was the end of your contract," said White.

The stress of watching bills pile up and life savings disappear was hard enough, but nothing quite like another loss.

"In 2008, my wife died of a stress related heart death two months after we were cut off chickens," White said.

He's heart broken, but determined. White joins poultry growers across the Southeast, in a monumental lawsuit against Pilgrim's Pride.

In the East Texas area there are 54 farms filed on the lawsuit.

Some growers made  a YouTube documentary. They want compensation. They also want change industry wide.

"As long as the integrator can just keep shoveling things down your throat and keeping them in debt and their thumb pushed on 'em, you know they're not going to have the life they expected to have," said White.

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