The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is hosting its first Dinner and Docs event on June 18. It will be an evening of dinner, a documentary and discussion around U.S. chicken production. The event will also highlight how the media covers issues of food and farming.

The documentary is a Netflix film called “Rotten: Big Bird,” which shows “the ruthlessly efficient world of chicken production pits vulnerable growers against each other and leaves them open to vicious acts of sabotage,” according to Netflix.

When:  June 18 from 6:00 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: The City Center 503 S. Chestnut St., Champaign

What: A dinner, documentary and a discussion about big chicken farming in the U.S.

Cost: $5

Get tickets here.

Experts predict that chicken will be the most popular meat by the end of 2020, according to the film. In order to keep up with demand, farmers say they need to double their yield by 2050.

In the United States, there are 32,751 chicken farms and they produce almost nine billion chickens a year, according to the 2017 U.S. Agriculture Census. In Illinois, there are 509 farms which produce 200,000 chickens, according to the census.

Four Big Ag companies, Tyson, Sanderson Farms, Perdue and Pilgrim’s Pride, own the majority of the market. The film focuses on Pilgrim’s Pride, which is majority-owned by Brazilian beef conglomerate JBS SA.

Dinner and docs events are held by different media organizations throughout the country to highlight various issues and bring communities together.

We are looking for questions for the panel beforehand as well. Are you a farmer, chicken producer, agriculture worker or reader? If so, help guide the conversation by submitting a question in the form below:

All are welcome and encouraged to attend. The event is free but dinner tickets are $5.
Please RSVP here.

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. for dinner, followed by the film at 6:30 p.m., with the panel discussion at 7:30 p.m.

If the cost is prohibitive but you would like to attend, please contact Pam Dempsey at

The event is presented in partnership with PEN America’s Press Freedom Incentive Fund, an initiative that aims to invigorate local communities with ideas, information, questions, and discourse around press freedom defense; Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit, online news outlet covering agribusiness through investigative and enterprise reporting; Illinois Humanities, private 501(c)(3) state-level affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and works to build dialogue across all sectors of society to examine issues important to democracy in strategically selected topical focus areas; Knight Chair of Investigative and Enterprise Reporting, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

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