The Garcias had a contract to supply chickens to Pilgrim’s Pride through 2012. They and nine other local farms have asked the bankruptcy judge to force the company to honor the contracts. [Photo: Jeffrey Camp]
Now, as part of its reorganization, Pilgrim has canceled more than two dozen contracts with chicken farmers in Suwannee and surrounding counties. “We’ll definitely lose the farm. We’ll lose everything,” says Gillian Garcia, who with her husband, Bruno Garcia, has a $1-million mortgage on eight chicken houses that solely supplied Pilgrim’s.
The company says it has been hurt by record feed costs, an oversupply of chicken and softening demand.
Live Oak Mayor Sonny Nobles says the company has refused to pay a $76,000 utility bill. The bankruptcy judge made the company put up a guarantee to cover future bills, “but we’ll basically have to eat the $76,000, and for our budget in these economic times, it’s quite a blow to us.”
“It’s looking real grim,” says Wainwright. “For the workforce dumped on the market, there’s no other industry that can pick them up.”