The Banks County News
March 7, 2001
I don't have a bladder infection or kidney
My gall bladder is fine and my appendix is OK.
As for my intestines and ovaries, they're OK too.
After four doctors and four extensive tests, I can rest assured
that everything is normal. Of course, I'm probably one of the
few people who are in tears at the news that their test came
There are no tumors or other obvious problems to be found. My
X-rays, CAT scans and ultrasounds all show that I'm in perfect
health. So, why have I had this aching pain in my side, lower
back and lower abdomen for two months? Why have I left work to
hurry home in tears because the pain is so bad that I can't sit
up any more? I guess it will remain one of those medical mysteries.
I'm one of those people who want a diagnosis and a prescription
before being sent home to recuperate. I don't enjoy doctors saying
things like, "Hmmm. That's strange." or "Hmmm.
That doesn't make sense." Apparently, I'm the first to have
this mystery ailment. I'll probably end up in all of the medical
I want to know what is wrong and how to fix it. Unfortunately,
that doesn't always happen. I'm one of those people who think
doctors are supposed to have an answer for everything. I have
to remind myself that they're only human beings and can't possibly
have all of the answers.
With no answers coming, I'll just have to be strong and continue
to pray about it. On one of my many business drives between Banks
to Jackson counties, I noticed a church with the phrase "Pray
without ceasing" on its sign. That's a good motto for us
all to remember, not just when we are sick.
My grandmother, Mozelle Clark, and my mother, Sarah Gary, have
always been an example of the importance of prayer. Because of
them, I know how important it is to keep in constant communication
with God. It's not that they tell me to pray, it's that I see
them in prayer.
It's quite common for me to be in one room of the house and hear
my mother in another room thanking Jesus out loud for something.
As for my grandmother, she has prayed with me in the middle of
a phone conversation and during visits to her house. While talking
to me about a problem or concern, she will bow her head, close
her eyes and begin to pray.
In good times and bad times, prayer is important. I'll remember
this as I deal with my medical mystery.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County News and associate
editor of The Jackson Herald.
Banks County News
March 7, 2001
More than chickens are being plucked
As I hear from more and more poultry growers, I believe that
more than chickens are getting plucked in this particular business.
Let me tell you a few of things I have seen firsthand and heard
from the men and women who put eggs in our skillets, broilers
in our ovens and drumsticks on our grills.
The majority of growers who have pulled me aside or called me
have said they are not making a livable income, or any income,
for that matter.
They tell me how bright their futures looked according to the
integrators (poultry companies) as they signed on the dotted
line. "You'll be able to make a good living! You'll be able
to provide for your family. You'll be able to set money aside
for your future."
It all sounded so good.
But...Within the contracts these men and women signed in good
faith were numerous incongruities. Incongruities that came back
on them with a vengeance.
Their accounts are heart-breaking. They expose an industry with
a complete lack of fair business practices or integrity.
That's odd to me. Here are these companies calling themselves
"integrators." According to Webster, and integrator
is "one who integrates." And to integrate means "to
form a whole; to unite or become united so as to become a perfect
A perfect whole...From what I have heard and seen, these companies
are not even close to living up to "forming a perfect whole."
Take this one particular article of a contract - "[company]
makes no warranty, express or implied, as to the quality, merchantibility,
fitness of the baby chicks, the feed, the medication, or any
other property delivered or recommended by the company."
Why on earth would an integrator send out sick chicks, foul feed,
or bad medicine? And another: The grower must agree to "allow
[the company] the right, at any time, for any reason, to sell,
move or process the birds."
What? They can just come in the night and take the chickens away
from the farmer who has bought and paid for or gone into debt
for the chickens' feed, medication, heat, cooling, and housing
? On an integrator's whim?
Now, sure, nobody held a gun to their heads to make them sign
these one-sided contracts.
But, remember, you're sitting down with a guy who has just painted
a picture of a rosy path to a lucrative future. He's got you
in the palm of his hand. "Hey, just buy these chicks from
us (subliminal message, at your own risk), follow our feeding
plan (subliminal message, we won't guarantee you good feed),
and we'll catch them, cage them, and transport them (subliminal
message, hopefully not too many of them will die on the way)
to our plant, where they will be weighed And we'll give you money
(subliminal message, how much depends on whether or not we gave
'ya the good stock or the sick stock) in a week or so."
The grower has no reason to believe that a company would perform
such injustices. Why should he or she? It's not logical to run
a business that way!
Yet the integrators do! Constantly.
And you know what? The grower can't take the integrator to court
to seek financial damages from his unknowing investment in ill
birds that die by the thousands (no exaggeration). He forfeits
rights to court trial in many company contracts. His only avenue
is arbitration, which costs a whole lot of money he doesn't have
because the company gave him sick birds and he can't afford to
pay the gas bill let alone hire an attorney.
He can't even talk about how he is being treated, because that,
too, is covered in the contract. There's a confidentiality clause.
he's not allowed to discuss his contract with anybody. (That
clause is being challenged and ignored out of a need for survival
and the hope of public and legislative support.)
So, now the poor farmer is trapped. He has to stay in the business
that has just burned him. He has bills to pay. He gets a second
mortgage to pay off the gas and power bills to provide the genetically
engineered birds with the precise, required environment and get
enough money to live on until the next flock delivered is ready
But he gets burned a second time, a third time. Now, he faces
bankruptcy. He tries to sell the farm, but banks are unwilling
to grant loans on poultry farms because they see the trend of
These situations are real! They are happening every day in Banks
County, in Georgia, all across the country. That's why in many
states, including Georgia, legislation is being proposed to end
these injustices and inequities and give the farmer some relief
It wouldn't surprise me to see one day soon, a haggard man standing
at the intersection of 441 and I-85 with a sign saying: "I
am a poultry farmer. Will work for food. Please help!"
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News. Her
e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.