A New Credit Crunch Victim: Chickens
Chicken Housing CrisisThe housing bubble, and following credit crunch, has hit humans pretty hard. But now there's a new victim: Chickens. The Wall Street Journal reports that many farmers are having trouble paying the mortgage on the chicken houses: "A chicken housing crisis has cropped up in the U.S., and it's producing some of the same bleak results as the human one -- foreclosures, lawsuits and devastated homeowners."
Read on for more details.Another Downside of Industrial Farming?One of the causes is that poultry giant Pilgrim's Pride filed for bankruptcy last year, and this meant the end of contracts with at least 300 farms around the US. Without that revenue on which they were counting, many of the farms don't have the cash to pay for the chicken coops.
Today's chicken houses are bigger and more sophisticated than the coops of yore. Made from corrugated metal and wooden beams, the cavernous shacks can be longer than a football field and cost more than $200,000. To maximize profits, many farmers own at least four, meaning high-six-figure mortgages are common.
Could this have happened to farmers raising chickens using greener methods? Maybe, but from what we've read about farms like Polyface, they are much less dependent on expensive capital and buildings. Instead, the chicken are part of a miniature ecosystem that includes the other animals of the farm.
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