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Washington state lawsuit accuses chicken producers of illegally inflating prices

Washington state lawsuit accuses chicken producers of illegally inflating prices
The Washington state lawsuit names 19 chicken producers. File Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 26 (UPI) -- The state of Washington on Tuesday sued 19 chicken producers, accusing them of illegally conspiring to inflate prices, the attorney general announced.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson said the 19 companies named in the lawsuit account for about 95% of all broiler chicken sales in the United States. Broiler chickens are those raised for meat, including raw chicken sold at grocery stores and those made into chicken nuggets and sandwiches at restaurants.

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Ferguson accused the companies of violating the state's Consumer Protection Act by coordinating to reduce supplies and rig contract bids to manipulate and boost prices. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says broiler chickens had wholesale sales between $21 billion and $33 billion each year from 2008 to 2018.

"If you've eaten chicken in the last decade, this conspiracy touched your wallet," Ferguson said. "This conspiracy cost middle-class and low-income Washington families more money to put food on their table. I will hold these companies accountable for the profits they illegally made off the backs of hardworking Washington families."

The companies named in the suit include Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim's Pride Corp., Sanderson Farms Inc., Perdue Farms Inc., Koch Foods Inc., Foster Farms LLC, Mountaire Farms Inc., Wayne Farms LLC, Amick Farms LLC, George's Inc., Peco Foods Inc., House of Raeford Inc., Fieldale Farms Corp., Case Foods Inc., Mar-Jac Poultry, Claxton Poultry Farms, Simmons Foods Inc., O.K. Foods Inc. and Harrison Poultry Inc.

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The lawsuit also names Agri Stats, a company that collects and distributes industry data.

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