Over the past several years, the U.S. broiler industry has been accused of several instances of alleged collusion.

First, there were allegations of conspiring to rig bids and drive up the price of chicken. Then, there were allegations of conspiring to keep payments to contract farmers down.

Now, there are reports that another case of alleged collusion is being investigated. Details are pretty limited, but according to a Wall Street Journal report, this case, being examined by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is related to “employment practices that held down plant workers’ wages,” anonymous sources told the publication.

The article further reports that DOJ is examining actions at multiple poultry companies.

Pilgrim’s Pride disclosed in a securities filing that the DOJ notified it of a civil antitrust investigation into “human resources issues,” and Perdue Farms informed the Journal it had received a similar notice. Other companies declined to comment to the Journal.

This reported investigation comes at the same time 10 men who have worked in leadership positions within several top U.S. poultry companies are going through a second federal trial for their part in an alleged conspiracy to drive up the price of chicken. During the first trial, which took place in 2021, jurors were unable to reach a verdict and a mistrial was declared.

It would seem that there are now living in a world in which the poultry industry must allocate resources to such legal matters, whether they have any merit or not.

Several companies that were accused of conspiring to drive up the price of chicken have reached settlements. The situation is the same for some companies accused of conspiring to minimize payments for contract growers. However, none of the companies that were accused of either alleged conspiracy admitted that any wrongs were done. They simply wanted to go about business without being distracted with these legal matters.

You can’t blame them for that. Just reporting on these cases is time consuming enough; I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of the companies or individuals directly named or subpoenaed in such cases.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, comes from this latest reported DOJ investigation. But one thing seems sure: Allegations of industry conspiracy -- whether it be the broiler, turkey, pork or dairy industries – don’t appear to be going away anytime soon in our current culture.