John Oliver has a message for lawmakers: It's time to stand up for the rights of chicken farmers or forever be branded a "chicken fucker."
On his HBO show "Last Week Tonight," Oliver shined a spotlight on the plight of the American chicken farmer. While chicken is one of the nation's best-selling foods, the chicken farmers are getting paid, well, chickenfeed.
The segment explained how many of the farmers are poor because of "contract farming" practices in which they are responsible for all the expenses of running the farm, but the big poultry companies actually own the chickens -- the one part of the business that makes money.
As a result, many chicken farmers are living below the poverty line. When confronted with that fact, an industry lobbyist tried to parse words.
"Which poverty line are you referring to? Is that a national poverty line? Is that a state poverty line?” National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super asked in "Cock Fight," a Fusion documentary.
"What the fuck are you talking about? It's doesn't matter!" Oliver said. "The poverty line is like the age of consent. If you find yourself parsing exactly where it is, you’ve probably already done something very, very wrong.”
Farmers who have spoken out say they faced retaliation from the powerful poultry industry. A measure forbidding retaliation against poultry farmer whistleblowers, backed by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), failed to pass the House Appropriations Committee.
Oliver blasted lawmakers on the committee by name with a list appearing on a screen behind him.
"If your representative's name is up there, and they vote against Marcy Kaptur's amendment, it is because they -- and I cannot stress this enough -- are chicken fuckers. They fuck chickens. That's what they do, every day, every which way. And unless they want that chicken-fucker label to follow them for the rest of their lives, they might want to think extra carefully about which way they are going to vote, because chicken-fucker accusations do not come off a Wikipedia page easily. Or if they do, they tend to go right back up."
Discover who the "potential chicken fuckers" are -- and get a full explanation of contract farming -- in the clip above. And keep an eye on those Wikipedia entries.