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John Oliver Does Brilliant Expose Of The Politics Of The Chicken Industry

Most of the farmers in the chicken industry live below the poverty level -- thanks to something called "contract farming."

As much as I enjoy Jon Stewart, he doesn't really hold a candle to John Oliver: Because Oliver always draws the line between outrageous situations and the political actors who created them. Because Oliver urges you to contact your legislators and get something done. This segment, exposing the abuses of contract farming in the chicken industry, is one of his very best. Via Rolling Stone:

As they satiate America's vast, gnawing chicken hunger, the four big poultry companies use a system of contract farmers that leaves many of those actually raising the chickens taking on debt and living below the poverty line. With a business model that sees farmers taking on all the expenses of equipment and infrastructure — subject to frequent demands for upgrades — while the corporations own the actual chickens, "That essentially means you own everything that costs money, and we own everything that makes money," Oliver notes. To make matters worse, he reports that the big poultry companies are known to retaliate against any farmers speaking out against the practices.

Toward the end of the segment, Oliver gets into the legislative meat of the issue: although protective rules for poultry farmers have been written, they are not enforced, thanks to a rider inserted into the agriculture appropriations bill that forbids the USDA from enforcing the rules. Ohio Representative Marcy Kaptur introduced a measure forbidding such retaliation, which failed to pass the House Appropriations Committee the first time around. But since the committee is meeting again next month and Kaptur might propose her provision once again, Oliver has a solution.

Introducing the 51 voting members of the committee, Oliver suggests citizens engage in a particularly delectable form of rumor-mongering for those who don't vote in favor of Kaptur's provision: "Because chickenf*cker accusations do not come off a Wikipedia page easily."

And by the way, I heart Marcy Kaptur!


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