Wednesday, October 4, 2023

NCC asks Labor Department to keep contract chicken farmers as independent contractors

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The United States Department of Labor has put forward a new regulation that would change titles for employees. Some employees could be called independent contractors. The DOL is trying to terminate the rule that was established in January 2021. The current rule also attempted to revise the criteria that is used to define an employee’s status.

If the new regulation goes to the finalization process, it will replace the current rule. The new rule gives six standards to aid an evaluation of the economic certainties of a working relationship between an employer and independent contractor.

The National Chicken Council believes that these six standards would apply to contract chicken farmers. The NCC believes that contract chicken farmers should remain to be called ‘independent contractors,’ as they are presently called.

NCC’s Senior Vice President, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Dr. Ashley B. Peterson said in a letter to Amy DeBisschop of the DOL, “NCC is the national, non-profit trade association that represents vertically integrated companies that produce, and process more than 95 percent of the chicken marketed in the United States. Many companies in the broiler chicken industry work with independent farmers to raise broilers and broiler chicks. These farmers have long operated and been recognized as independent contractors.”

She stated that the contract chicken farmers fit into the six standards that the DOL has given such as, Opportunity for Profit or Loss Depending on Managerial Skill, Investments by the Worker and the Employer, Degree of Permanence of the Work Relationship, Nature and Degree of Control, Extent to Which the Work Performed Is an Integral Part of the Employer’s Business and Skill and Initiative.

“NCC believes that the existing approach to determining whether an individual is an independent contractor has been appropriate for analyzing the status of independent chicken farmers and has resulted in the correct outcome for the chicken industry, which is that independent chicken farmers are properly considered independent contractors,” Peterson added.

She continued to say in the letter, “this classification reflects the independent nature of farming operations, the importance of the capital and skill that farmers provide, and longstanding industry expectations. We encourage the Department not to change its approach with respect to independent chicken farmers.”

Peterson added that, “although NCC believes the current approach is the proper one for independent chicken farmers, after reviewing the Proposed Rule, we believe that under the proposed criteria, these farmers would remain independent contractors. We therefore encourage the Department to clarify that independent chicken farmers would remain independent contractors under the proposed criteria in the event the Department were to finalize the Proposed Rule.”

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