Lawsuit filed against Tyson, Cal-Maine over Dexter plant

The civil action claims the two companies are preventing farmers from working in the poultry sector.

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Litigation Gavel Scales

Attorneys in Stoddard County, Missouri have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of 45 farmers in in the region against Tyson Foods and Cal-Maine Foods, according to media outlet KFVS.

Cal-Maine purchased Tyson’s Dexter processing plant in March 2024 and announced its plans to remodel the plant for use in the shell egg and egg products sector. 

The lawsuit alleges that anti-competitive behavior by Tyson and Cal-Maine will prevent Tyson’s previous farmers from continuing to work in the poultry industry, which in turn, is financially hurting the area’s farmers.

Additionally, the lawsuit references a property use agreement between Tyson and Cal-Maine, in which a footnote at the bottom of one of the pages references meat. According to the lawsuit, Cal-Maine produces table eggs, and does not process chickens for meat.

One of the attorneys on the case Russell Oliver noted that much of Tyson’s property use agreement is currently redacted or blacked out, and that the company should make the document available to the public.

Concerning the lawsuit, Oliver stated, “The proposed class is made up of local, Bootheel family farms who mortgaged their farms, invested millions of dollars to build infrastructure that was designed and purposed to do one thing--and that was to raise chickens for slaughter that fed American families.”

“This fact renders the value of those farms, which once were at millions of dollars, to nearly nothing,” added Oliver.

Oliver said the attorneys on the case will soon ask a judge to recognize the case’s class action status. Tyson and Cal-Maine will have 30 days to respond to the filing.

Background on the lawsuit

Tyson originally announced the closure of its Dexter plant in August 2023. However, the farmers supplying the plant claim Tyson knew as early as November 2021 that it would shut down the processing plant, but did not tell its growers in that area, and led them to believe the facility was staying in operation.

In January 2024, Missouri poultry farmers filed a lawsuit alleging that Tyson breached its contract and committed fraudulent misrepresentation after the growers entered into millions of dollars in debt to update and maintain their broiler and broiler breeder farms at Tyson’s request.

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