John Oliver and chicken farmers

Recently John Oliver exposed the abusive practices by the four big companies who exploit chicken farmers by misleading them with various promises that entice them into signing contracts that result in a form of indentured servitude, and being protected by some members from Congress, funded by the big chicken lobby, who blocked any corrective legislation. The video got over 3 million viewers on YouTube. I linked to the clip and wrote about this issue earlier.

It turns out that his expose may have had an effect.

The Department of Agriculture may be able to protect chicken farmers from industry retaliations in 2016, and satirical news anchor John Oliver may be part of the reason.

A draft of the 2016 Agriculture Appropriations Bill was unanimously approved by a House subcommittee Thursday.

It passed without any amendments that might prohibit the U.S. Department of Agriculture from punishing meatpacking companies if they use deceptive practices against contract livestock and poultry farmers.

Part of the credit goes to the host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” some members of Congress said.

On his show last month, the comedian criticized contracts that poultry producers, including Tyson Foods, Sanderson Farms, and Perdue, have their chicken farmers sign.

The battle is not yet over. The Byzantine manner by which legislation is passed still allows opportunities for some members of Congress to introduce amendments that strip the measure of any teeth. But it is a good sign.

Oliver seems to have no problem using his platform for advocacy. He can add this one, like his rant over net neutrality, to the list of important issues that have helped significantly sway public opinion on a major issue.


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