Pilgrim's is offering an award of up to $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators of vandalism against family farmers in Clarendon County, South Carolina.

"Pilgrim's was recently made aware of several unfortunate and deliberate acts of vandalism at the operations of some of our contract grower partners in Clarendon County, South Carolina," said Randy Stroud, live operations manager, Pilgrim's Pride. "These heinous acts resulted in a cruel death for several thousand chickens that were under the care of dedicated family farmers. These are not factory farms - they are family farms operated by good men and women who work hard each day to provide humane care and safe living conditions for their birds."

The affected family farms are under contract to grow chickens on behalf of Pilgrim's, delivering the birds to the company's prepared foods facility in Sumter, South Carolina. Pilgrim's Sumter is a critical part of the economic viability of the local community, the company stated, employing more than 1,600 team members, partnering with more than 90 local growers and paying more than $24 million in annual grower payments. Pilgrim's Sumter provides high quality chicken products to retail and food service customers throughout the U.S. and around the world. Pilgrim's will deliver new flocks of birds to affected growers in the coming days to help compensate losses.

"I want to personally thank Clarendon County Sheriff Randy Garrett and his team, the USDA and the South Carolina state police for their efforts to investigate this matter and hold those responsible accountable," said Mickey Baugher, complex manager, Pilgrim's Sumter. "We have no idea why our grower partners may have been targeted. We will continue to assist authorities in any way possible to resolve this unfortunate situation."

The reward of up to $50,000 is being offered by Pilgrim's Pride Corporation. Anyone with information about these incidents or as to the identity or whereabouts of the perpetrators is urged to contact the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office at +1.803.435.4414.

"The family farmer is the backbone of rural America, her values and her economy," said Bill Lovette, president and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride. "The American family farmer makes safe, nutritious and affordable meals possible for millions of American families every day. An attack against the family farm should not and cannot be tolerated and we hope this reward will help bring the perpetrators to swift justice."