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AG settles poultry gouging lawsuit

UPDATED: Fri., May 20, 2022

Columbia Basin Herald

OLYMPIA — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced on Thursday that chicken producer Mar-Jac Poultry will pay the state $750,000 as the company seeks to settle its portion of a major state lawsuit against 19 poultry producers alleging improper business practices.

In a press release, the attorney general’s office said Mar-Jac has agreed to cooperate with state investigators and provide information and documentation in relation to allegations the 19 poultry producers, as well as an industry data reporting service, engaged in a conspiracy to inflate and manipulate prices, rig bids on contracts and coordinate supply reductions in order to maximize returns and profits.

The other companies involved in the lawsuit include Tyson Foods, Pilgrim’s Pride, Sanderson Farms, Perdue Farms, Koch Foods, Mountaire Farms, Wayne Farms, Amick Farms, George’s, Peco Foods, House of Raeford Farms, Fieldale Farms, Case Foods, Norma W. Fries (doing business as Claxton Poultry Farms), Simmons Foods, O.K. Foods, Harrison Poultry and Agri Stats, Inc.

The 19 companies control 95% of the market for broiler chickens — virtually all chicken sold for consumption and used in everything from chicken nuggets to whole chickens sold in grocery stores — with the illegal conspiracy unduly driving up the prices consumers pay, affecting nearly every Washington resident, the press release said.

“If you’ve eaten chicken in the last decade, this conspiracy touched your wallet,” Ferguson said in the press release. “This is an important step toward accountability. We aren’t done yet.”

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