"The System Supplying America's Chickens Pits Farmer Vs. Farmer" | Dan Charles | NPR

If you eat chicken, you should know about contract farming. The popular white meat isn't exactly a fair or lucrative system for farmers or the animals. Nor does it offer a chance for healthy economic competition or advancement for the farmer. To borrow from this NPR report, it's "a raw deal." Take a listen:

The companies set an average price that they will pay for raising the chickens — in this case, 5 cents per pound. But some farmers will get more than that, and others less, depending on a formula that measures their performance. It’s mainly based on feed efficiency: how much weight the chickens gained, compared to how much feed the company supplied.

The farmers are ranked, like teams competing in a sports league. The top-ranked farmer can get paid up to 50 percent more, per pound of chicken delivered, than the one at the bottom. “The pie doesn’t change,” Watts says. It’s just divided into bigger and smaller slices.
— Dan Charles, NPR