Farmer Claims Breach of Contract by Pilgrim’s Pride Caused Him to Lose Farm

Forrest E. Crider claimed a breach of contract by Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation and AgSouth Farm Credit ACA caused him to sell a family farm in Saint Matthews, South Carolina for less than market price. They agreed to provide chickens for him to raise after he made required modifications to his farm, but continued to request more modifications and never sent the chickens.

The case was removed on Wednesday from the South Carolina First Judicial Circuit Court to federal court by AgSouth. The party alleged the case should be moved because Crider claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, and including AgFirst created a fraudulent joinder.

“This Notice of Removal will illustrate how there is no possibility that Mr. Crider would be able to establish a cause of action against AgFirst under South Carolina law due the lack of factual basis for Plaintiff’s allegations,” AgSouth claims. It argues that AgFirst was not associated in the agreement between the plaintiff and AgSouth and is wrongfully added as a defendant.

Crider is represented by Segui Law Firm, PC. The complaint was filed against Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, represented by McAngus Goudelock and Courie; Hog Slat Incorporated, represented by Turner Padget Graham and Laney; AgFirst Farm Credit Bank; and AgSouth Farm Credit ACA, represented by Nexsen Pruet, LLC. 

The plaintiff received oral agreements and a letter of intent stating Pilgrim’s Pride’s intent to use him and his farm as a “grower” after he fixed inadequacies in his farm, and advising he use Hog Slat Inc. because of its business relationship with Pilgrim’s Pride. As a grower, he would raise and care for chickens from the time they hatch until they reach the age to be slaughtered. He made specific alterations and upgrades to his farm at the request of Pilgrim’s Pride, taking out a $1.2 million loan from AgSouth to accomplish them.

“Integrators (like Pilgrim’s Pride) have the most power over Growers laden with debt from building or upgrading their houses. Thus, Integrators are keenly aware of Growers’ debt burdens, and require them to undertake unnecessary and expensive upgrades to their facilities to prevent financial independence,” the complaint claimed.

Pilgrim’s Pride allegedly continued to request more upgrades and never delivered the chickens to Crider. Crider claims Pilgrim’s Pride also communicated to him that it would provide the chickens if the farm was owned by someone other than him.

The plaintiff claimed he was forced to use personal money to repair damage caused by Hog Slat’s negligence and faulty materials. He also claimed AgSouth and AgFirst Farm required him to include in his property sale equipment that was not part of the collateral agreed to for his loans.