Restock Dates: Please see our Farm Blog where we post our weekly newsletter for the latest updates

Perdue Greenwashing "Pastured Chicken" Definition

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

November 12, 2023

First, our Whole Turkeys are sold out! Thank you for choosing a pasture-raised turkey for your family this year. And, in case you missed out we processed some larger chickens last Tuesday (6+ pound range) that you may want to consider.

About February 2021 it was made public that Perdue was buying PastureBird. Perdue is one of the big three industrial chicken consolidators with headquarters in GA. PastureBird was started by a Marine Corp. veteran named Paul in CA. He worked really hard and had built a great brand based on American Pastured Poultry Producers Association definition of "pasture raised".

This story actually began more than a year earlier. The actual time is not something made public. However, at the APPPA Conference Jan 2020 Paul was leaving hints while talking to vendors at the conference. These "dots" were later connected to reveal there was discussion to sell PastureBird to Perdue.

About the time the deal was made (as best as I know) it was made public that Paul, who served on the APPPA Board, had asked the Board members (sometime in 2020) to not disclose that he was in discussion to sell PastureBird to Perdue.

As you might imagine, there was a lot of conversation from APPPA members about this sale. Frankly, my position was, it is his company so he can sell to whomever he wishes. However, I took great exception to him asking the Board to stay silent while staying on the Board himself - Through all the emails Paul insisted that he had the best interest of APPPA (that includes APPPA members and their customers). By the way, Paul is now a VP at Perdue!

Here are some of the remarks that Paul made to APPPA members:

  • "Mark – I’ll reiterate – I am not asking you to take any leap of faith at all. You should believe whatever you want to. My only suggestion is to reserve final judgement until you see what we do."
  • "My only suggestion is that you wait to reserve final judgement until you see what actually happens.”
  • "Please keep in mind - nobody is asking you to trust Perdue’s intentions.”
  • "Last point – Perdue didn’t set any standards for APPPA, it was the other way around. Perdue adopted, word for word, the definition put forth by APPPA to the USDA, where APPPA proposed that Pasture Raised should mean that every chicken spends the majority of its life on pasture, with pasture defined as majority rooted vegetative cover. In my opinion, this is an overwhelming WIN for APPPA, having a huge impact on how a huge company does true pasture raised chicken."

Fast forward to the Fall of 2023 and we learn that Perdue Farms recently petitioned the USDA with a proposal to redefine the terms "free-range" and "pasture-raised." While the purported aim is to clear consumer confusion, looking closely into the proposal reveals elements that may dilute the essence of pasture-raised poultry farming.

Mike with APPPA stated, "The timing of this proposal, coinciding with Perdue Farms' foray into the pasture-raised chicken market following the acquisition of Pasturebird, raises a flag. It hints at a tailored redefinition to suit a particular business model rather than uphold the rigorous standards that have set pasture-raised poultry apart."

Bottom line for me is "say what you do & do what you say". If the APPPA pasture-raised definition does not fit Perdue's business model they, Perdue, should NOT label their chicken "pasture raised".

This is just one of the many examples of attacks on small farmers. There is no way a small farm can compete with the likes of Perdue on price, volume, ability to petition USDA for regulation changes, etc.

However, when it comes to building relationships with LOCAL customers, small farms really shine. Another BIG plus in favor of small farms is transparency. None of the industrial companies/farms will allow you to visit, ask questions, take pictures, etc. I would also include that small local farms are more reliable than industrial businesses. Simply consider who continued to work the Spring of 2020! Small farms continued to serve customers while the large plants shut down and millions of pounds of chicken and pork were euthanized and milk was dumped.

Would you like to see other examples? How about checking out your favorite organic brand - you may be surprised to learn which major food company actually owns the brand???

Then, check out The Cornucopia Institute. The mission of Cornucopia is to uncover the truth behind organic food and advocates for an organic label you can trust. Their website includes a listing of organic brands owned by massive corporations so you can learn where your money is actually going. Additionally, they have a listing of Organic-Only Independent Brands that are available nationally at retail.

** Product Availability Update **

NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below!

Chicken - Restocked November 8th. Next restock will be Nov 21st. Yes, we will be raising chickens throughout the winter months

Turkey - Whole turkeys are sold out

Eggs - Restock each Wednesday. Received 950 new pullet hens Thursday, Nov 9th.

Beef - Restocked October 27th. Next Restock Nov 17th.

Pork -Restocked Nov 9th. Smoked cuts 2 weeks later

Lamb - Restocked September 13th. Scheduled to process lamb in November, but this has been delayed.

More from the blog

Farm Visitors

Since we started selling via our online store in 2016, the number of visitors to our farm increased. Then, building the on-farm USDA poultry plant in 2019 spurred a lot of interest from folks who were interested in raising pastured poultry and were looking for a way around the MS Department of Ag regulation limiting the number of chickens per farm to only 1,000 per year. Most of the folks visiting were potential customers looking for naturally raised meats to feed their families.

Farmer Musings!

Beth & I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving - and turkey if you purchased one our our pastured turkeys. For our family the turkey did not disappoint. I spatchcocked (removed the backbone) so the turkey would lay flat. Beth then brined it for a day before smoking. It turned out tasty and juicy. Before our Thanksgiving meal each of us shared something we were thankful for. Beth's sister Debra shared the following:

A Day Processing Ground Beef!

Overall rain this week on our farm was about ONE inch! Not a lot in the big scheme of things, but very appreciated. It was enough to make a difference for our winter grass as you can see from this picture. In some areas of other pastures it appears that the seedlings died after germinating back in October. An observation that the heavy dews was not enough to keep them alive.