Hawley Demands Tyson Foods Come Clean About Chicken Plant Closures in Missouri

Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Tyson Foods CEO Donnie King demanding transparency and accountability after a lawsuit brought against his company alleged that Tyson lied about its intentions to sell its chicken plant in Dexter, Mo., to a competitor. 

The letter comes after Senator Hawley secured a commitment from King, pledging that Tyson would sell its Missouri plant to any interested party—including a competitor—in an effort to support the more than 2,000 Missourians who lost their jobs.

Senator Hawley has continued to push forward in his fight to protect Missouri farmers and workers from Tyson’s anticompetitive and unethical practices. 

Last September, he introduced the Strengthening Antitrust Enforcement for Meatpacking Act to empower antitrust enforcers to break up giant meatpacking and poultry monopolies and place power back in the hands of Missourians.

He also sent a letter last September to King, demanding answers after a disturbing new report from The New York Times exposed unsafe, illegal child labor practices within the company. 

Read the full letter here or below. 

July 9, 2024

Donnie D. King 
Chief Executive Officer 
Tyson Foods 
2200 W. Don Tyson Parkway 
Springdale, AR 72762 

Dear Mr. King:

Last summer, your company announced plans to close its poultry plants in Noel and Dexter, Missouri. On September 15, 2023, you personally assured me that you would not prevent a competitor from acquiring these plants. Now, a class-action lawsuit filed against your company alleges that this was a lie.

Your plant closures last year didn’t just affect the plant workers themselves. The closures affected all the farmers who had previously contracted with your company. This recent lawsuit was filed by Grandview Poultry, on behalf of similarly situated chicken farms, who had contracted with Tyson to produce chickens for the processing plant. The farmers built their farms for chicken production in reliance on those contracts. And if Tyson had sold the Dexter plant to a competitor, these farms would have been well positioned to continue in the same business.

That, apparently, did not happen. The lawsuit alleges that your company sold the Dexter plant to Cal-Maine Foods, a non-competitor which does not process broiler chickens, but produces table eggs. Farmers who built their farms for chicken production, reasonably assuming that your company would be there for them or at least not block a sale to a competitor, have now allegedly been left out in the cold.

Crucially, the lawsuit alleges that you “misled” me and Congressman Jason Smith about your intentions for the Dexter plant, and that “internal documents” contravene commitments you made to me and Rep. Smith. However, the key details on this point have been redacted from the publicly available court filings. I understand that this information is currently subject to a protective order issued by the Circuit Court of New Madrid County that would preclude the plaintiffs from disclosing it.

These are serious allegations, and the people of Missouri deserve to know the truth. You should immediately make this redacted information public, and additionally provide my office with an unredacted copy of the class action petition and all internal documents it references. I will follow up with you upon receipt.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Josh Hawley
United States Senator