Saturday, May 25, 2024

Chicken farmers stuck with uncertainty, massive loans in wake of Tyson Foods closures


Timothy Bundren's chicken barns are all standing empty since Tyson cancelled his growing contract last year. His operation near Harrison, Arkansas, was photographed on March 31 (Julie Anderson, for Investigate Midwest)

Timothy Bundren must have heard wrong.

The sun wasn’t up yet. He was still groggy from starting his morning routine of walking through chicken barns.

His phone rang and his contact with the global meat company headquartered in Springdale, Arkansas, just two hours south of his farm, started telling him he would no longer be raising chickens.

Bundren, 52, didn’t believe him at first. Just hours later, he was supposed to meet with the bank about another loan to buy the farm down the road. Bundren waited an hour and then called the man back.

The news didn’t change, but the weight sunk in.

Tyson Foods closed four meatpacking plants that day in North Little Rock, Arkansas; Noel and Dexter, Missouri; and Corydon, Indiana. Bundren lives near the plants closed in Missouri and Arkansas. Because of this, the company canceled Bundren’s contract to raise broiler chickens...more

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