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Delmarva chicken industry sees sluggish growth in 2019

Delaware Department of Agriculture

The Delmarva chicken industry is growing, but at a slower rate than in the rest of the country.



The Delmarva Poultry Industry argues home growers on Delmarva face more challenging economic and regulatory conditions than chicken growers elsewhere around the United States.

It says that played a role in active chicken house capacity falling by three percent and a 0.6 percent year-to-year increase in chickens processed from 2018 to 2019 that was lower than the nationwide growth of 2 percent.

Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc., Communications Manager  James Fisher details some of the issues local growers face.

“Most of them operate in the backyard and in the Watershed in the Chesapeake Bay and there's a lot of extra steps that chicken growers take to ensure that the bay's water quality improves, and the bay has been improving," said Fisher. "The metrics and measurements scientists make on Chesapeake Bay water quality is in the immediate term and long term getting better."

Fisher suggests the amount of regulation local chicken growers face also contributed to the sluggish growth

"There are a lot of regulations and limitations on how farmers can farm, how they can apply their litter and store their litter and now in Maryland there's a phosphorus management tool that's just coming into sort of full enforcement that's placing additional limitations," Fisher said.

Fisher adds chicken growers need to be aware of other layers of regulations being added to the industry.

The good news for the local industry is the number of chickens growers active on Delmarva grew last year, as did the value the chicken raised and processed, which reached three and a half billion dollars.

Fisher adds there is hope the trade deal with China finalized at the end of 2019 will start to show benefits locally this year.

Joe brings over 20 years of experience in news and radio to Delaware Public Media and the All Things Considered host position. He joined DPM in November 2019 as a reporter and fill-in ATC host after six years as a reporter and anchor at commercial radio stations in New Castle and Sussex Counties.
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