Count your chickens. $25 million of them.

As part of broader disputes about the bankruptcy of Pilgrim’s Pride, chicken growers alleged that its decision to shut down a large facility violated the Packers and Stockyards Act of 1921.  Relying on its earlier [9-7] en banc decision which found that a broader provision of the Act required proof of anticompetitive conduct, the Fifth Circuit found that section 192(e) of the Act imposes the same requirement.  Agerton v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, No. 12-40085 (August 27, 2013) (citing Wheeler v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, 591 F.3d 355 (5th Cir. 2009)).  The Court then reversed a $25 million judgment for the growers, reasoning: “In the instant case, PPC had overextended itself into the commodity chicken market, was producing more chicken than the market appeared to need, and was thereby driving the market price of chicken down at great cost to itself. Recognizing the damage inflicted by its own excess production, PPC wisely decided to stop flooding the market with unprofitable chicken.  . . . Far from being a nefarious goal, higher prices are the natural consequence of a reduction in supply.  If it is lawful for a business to independently control its own output, then it is also lawful for the business to hope for the natural consequences of its actions.”

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