Law Street Media

Hog Farmer Sues JBS Live Pork for Breach of Contract and Conversion

The exterior of a poultry barn.

A newly constructed single story poultry barn in a rural setting.

On Tuesday, Justin Garner filed a complaint in the Western District of Arkansas against JBS Live Pork, LLC alleging breach of a pig production contract. 

According to the complaint, JBS Live Pork is a Delaware limited liability company and a subsidiary of JBS USA Food Company which is one of the world’s largest food companies with operations in 15 countries and is the world’s second largest pork producer. 

The complaint states that JBS employs vertical integration to supply pork to the market by contracting with farmers through JBS Live Pork to operate animal feeding operations, also known as factory farms. The complaint further states that under these production contracts, the farmers must abide by strict specifications that benefit JBS. The plaintiff alleges that even under perfect conditions, many farmers are barely able to generate enough revenue under these term contracts to pay their expenses.

The claim purports that Justin Garner is a resident of Howard County, Arkansas and in late 2017, he began discussions to purchase a hog farm facility that was being used to produce pigs for JBS. Garner states that the facility had no value as a hog farm unless JBS agreed to give Garner a production contract due to their market share in the industry. 

Garner states that in November 2017, JBS supplied him with a letter of intent as evidence of its commitment to provide him a production contract for a five-year term. The complaint states that after receiving the letter of intent, Garner purchased the hog facility and entered into a five-year production contract with JBS in March 2018. Under the contract, JBS would supply Garner with male and female pigs and in return, Garner had to supply JBS with piglets meeting their specifications. Garner states that the contract was incredibly one sided and allowed JBS to unilaterally amend or revise the contract,  including  changing  the  amount  it owed Garner for  his performance. 

Garner alleges that, on several occasions, JBS breached the terms of the contract and failed to provide him with the required male and female pigs. Further, on November 8, 2021, JBS representatives arrived at Garner’s farm and informed him that JBS was unilaterally terminating his contract. Additionally, Garner states that the representatives informed him that he needed to sign a waiver designed to prevent Garner from pursuing any claims against JBS for its unilateral termination of the contract and requiring him to keep the terms of his contract confidential. Garner states that he refused to sign the waiver and, as a result, JBS took possession of the pigs on his farm and refused to pay him anything. 

Garner argues that JBS has no basis for its unilateral cancellation of the contract which has caused him to shutter the hog farm and suffer severe economic harm. Accordingly, Garner seeks actual consequential and incidental damages, attorney’s fees and costs for JBS’s alleged breach of contract, tortious interference and conversion.

The plaintiff is represented by Corey D. McGaha PLLC and Turner and Turner, PA

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