The Government Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit against Pilgrim’s Pride on behalf of a contract grower, who alleges the company repeatedly violated the federal Agricultural Fair Practices Act (AFPA).

The grower, Eric Hedrick, claimed that the company sent him diseased chicks and moldy feed as a retaliatory measure after he spoke out against poultry industry practices at a 2010 government hearing, reported Bloomberg. That action of which Hedrick is accusing Pilgrim’s Pride is a violation of AFPA, which is designed to protect farmers from retaliation by those who buy their products because of membership in a cooperative. Hedrick made those comments at the hearing as a member and director of the Contract Poultry Growers Association of the Virginias.

He further accused Pilgrim’s Pride executives of misleading growers about the profit potential and said the company’s equipment demands caused him to lose more than $1,500.

Hedrick’s farm is known as Triple R Ranch.

In a press release from the Government Accountability Project, Hedrick stated: “We are filing this suit in hopes that the courts will recognize the abuses suffered by farmers at the hands of corporate agriculture. If this is not done there will be no future for farmers in this country.  We hope no one else has to suffer the financial and emotion(al) losses we have suffered.”

Food Integrity Campaign Director Amanda Hitt added, “We are optimistic that there will be justice for Eric Hedrick and for future contract farmers.”

Pilgrim’s Pride spokesman Cameron Bruett told Bloomberg that the company “strongly denies the allegations and looks forward to defending (its) interests.”

The case -- Triple R Ranch LLC v. Pilgrim’s Pride, 18-cv-109 -- has been filed in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of West Virginia in Elkins.

Pilgrim’s Pride is the second largest poultry company in the United States.