Not surprisingly, groups representing gun rights in the US steer a lot of their money toward Republican lawmakers.
So, too, does the poultry industry.
According to OpenSecrets, which tracks political donations, total contributions from the US poultry and egg industry to Republican candidates, parties, and outside money groups reached a record $4 million during the 2022 election cycle.
Democrats received about $253,000 from the industry, making poultry businesses the most Republican-leaning donors after gun rights groups this election year, with 94% of their contributions sent to the GOP. (OpenSecrets calculates that Republicans capture 99.7% of contributions made by gun advocates.)
The vast majority of the poultry industry’s contributions, which skew more Republican now than in 2020, comes from Mountaire Corp, which is the fourth largest chicken producer in the US.
The poultry industry is perhaps looking for a friendlier Congress, as the Democrat-controlled government has been cracking down on the meat industry for being highly consolidated. The US government’s investigation into these companies intensified when meat prices soared due to pandemic-related supply chain snags.
In October 2020, the US government charged six industry executives
for allegedly fixing prices for broiler chicken products, as part of a federal antitrust investigation of the $65 billion poultry industry. Prosecutors said that price-fixing took place between 2012 and 2019.
But the investigation didn’t yield much: just one guilty plea, five acquittals, and 11 defendants against whom all of the charges were dropped, as Bloomberg Law recently noted. In October, the US Justice Department dismissed its last criminal case against current or former poultry-industry executives who were investigated.
The meat industry is highly consolidated, with a small share of big companies supplying most of the beef, chicken, and pork consumed by Americans. Over the years, the companies have reportedly paid millions of dollars in fines and settlements for manipulating prices.
It’s not just the government but also retailers such as Walmart that have sued chicken suppliers, alleging the producers were coordinating to increase prices for broiler chickens since at least 2008. Chicken producers counter that their prices remain driven by grain prices, export sales, and other market forces.