EL DORADO, Ark. – On Oct. 3, Pilgrim's Pride announced it intended to appeal a judgment ordering the company to pay approximately $26 million to chicken growers in the El Dorado, Ark. area. The verdict, which was announced on Sept. 30, awarded 91 growers between $9,000 to nearly $900,000.

Pilgrim's decision to idle its El Dorado plant in 2008 was motivated by a desire to manipulate the price of chicken thereby violating an anti-trust law, a magistrate judge ruled.

"We're disappointed in the court's findings, and we don't find them consistent with the Packers and Stockyards Act," said Bill Lovette, Pilgrim's Pride CEO, in a statement sent to MEATPOULTRY.com. "We completely reject the idea that we tried to manipulate the market. We tried to live in the market, not manipulate it. We will appeal accordingly."

The appeal process could take more than a year, according to reports.