The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to rehear a case involving the interpretation of the Packers and Stockyards Act as applied to contracts between chicken growers and a processor. Wheeler v. Pilgrim’s Pride Corp., No. 07-40651 (5th Cir., decided July 27, 2009). In 2008, a three-judge circuit panel decided that the law does not require proof of an adverse effect on competition, creating a split with other circuit courts that had considered the question. The issue arose when chicken growers complained that the processor for whom they raised chickens gave preferential treatment and thus greater compensation to one grower. According to the earlier opinion, the other circuit courts have mistakenly looked to legislative history and policy issues to interpret the law, which the Fifth Circuit panel believed was clear and unambiguous. The case will be considered by the entire Fifth Circuit court on rehearing.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.