Pilgrim’s Pride offers $50K reward for chicken killer
by Robert Joseph Baker | March 6, 2015 9:48 am
Last Updated: March 6, 2015 at 9:49 am
GREELEY, Colo. — Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation has put up a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects responsible for the deaths of more than 300,000 chickens in Clarendon and Sumter counties and a loss of up to $1.7 million in revenue.
“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,” said Pilgrim’s Pride Live Operations Manager Randy Stroud. “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.”
Clarendon Sheriff Randy Garrett has said he believes the attacks on no less than eight farms in Clarendon County and one in Sumter County is an “intentional act of retaliation against Pilgrim’s Pride.”
“But it’s the farmers who are getting hurt,” he said. Garrett said the company’s Sumter facility recently held a layoff of about 100 employees.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals offered a $5,000 reward on Thursday, saying that while they deplore the alleged conditions of chicken houses, they are against the suspect or suspects who have cut off the animals’ source of heat or cooling and essentially made them suffocate to death.
Garrett said perpetrators “know these houses.”
“They know how they work,” he said. “You or I wouldn’t be able to just come off the street and know to cut the alarm so that when the heat is cut off or cut up that the alarm would go off.”
Stroud said affected family farms are under contract to grow chickens for Pilgrim’s, delivering the birds to the company’s prepared foods facility in Sumter.
“Pilgrim’s Sumter is a critical part of the economic viability of the local community, employing more than 1,600 team members, partnering with more than 90 local growers and paying more than $24 million in annual grower payments,” Stroud said. “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.”
Pilgrim’s Sumter Complex Manager Mickey Baugher thanked Garrett “and his team, the USDA and the South Carolina state police for their efforts to investigate this matter and hold those responsible accountable.
“We have no idea why our grower partners may have been targeted,” Baugher said. “We will continue to assist authorities in any way possible to resolve this unfortunate situation.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at (803) 435-4414. Callers may remain anonymous.