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January 11, 2021

Executive Compensation at the National Chicken Council

by Anne Paddock

Americans love their chicken. In the US, chicken consumption is nearly 100 pounds per capita which is why we raise and slaughter more than 9 billion birds a year.  That’s a lot of chicken.

Although many people consider chicken a “healthy meat,” because chicken has less cholesterol than steaks and burgers, chicken actually has about 20-25 mg of cholesterol per ounce of white meat and about 35-40 mg of cholesterol per ounce of dark meat. Given that most chicken servings are 5-6 ounces per serving, people eating a portion of chicken can expect to add 100 – 240 mg of cholesterol per serving (note:  Our bodies produce all the cholesterol we need. Food from plants – fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, etc. don’t have cholesterol).

Enter the National Chicken Council (NCC) – a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (6) – a trade association representing those who raise and process chickens for meat. Located in Washington, DC, the NCC raises just under $5 million a year, most of which comes from membership dues (i.e. Broiler Chicken Producers/Processors, Fowl Processor, Allied Industry, and Distributer Member). For the past several years, they have spent a few hundred thousand less than they have raised which has allowed them to accumulate a little more than $2 million in net fund assets.

NCC’s stated mission is to “promote the consumption of chicken by people in the United States” so its their job to promote chicken and tell consumers only what makes their product look favorable.  Telling consumers that  consuming chicken contributes to personal cholesterol levels will not help the chicken industry and, in fact, may discourage people from eating more chicken.  Better to stay away from disclosing that information lest the public think twice about consuming chicken.

Staffed by 8 employees, the NCC has five major expenses:  compensation ($1.8 million), public relations ($1 million), fees for services by non-employees ($0.5 million) – primarily legal fees and lobbying fees, office expenses ($0.3 million), and travel and conferences ($0.3 million). The largest expense – compensation – totaled $1.8 million to 8 employees, which equates to an average compensation of $300,000.  However, only 4 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation:

  • $645,938:  Michael J Brown, President
  • $298,804:  Thomas J Super, VP of Communications
  • $258,081:  Ashley Peterson, VP of Science and Regulatory Affairs
  • $174,729:  Margaret Ernst, Senior Director of Meetings

Based on the above information, the other 4 employees received a total of about $620,000, or an average of $156,000 which is inconsistent with the report on the Form 990 that only 4 employees received more than $100,000.  NCC paid for companion travel.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2018) for the NCC, click here.

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