The COVID-19 pandemic affected many things over the past year - including the poultry industry.
The Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) says in a report that chicken production on the peninsula dipped by 5% in 2020.
“It shows that in 2020 our farmers and our chicken companies raised and processed 570 million chickens," said the association's communications manager James Fisher. "It may sound like a lot but the year before was actually over 600 million. So we see a little bit of the impact that the COVID-19 challenges had on our chicken community.”
Fisher notes that the pandemic was especially challenging in the first half of 2020.
He says as COVID cases spiked in March, April and May, chicken processing plants faced challenges trying to keep their workforces safe.
Fisher says chicken processing plants, like Allen Harim, Mountaire Farms and Purdue, also faced challenges with workforce safety:
“People understandably wanted to stay home if they could. Chicken companies worked with their workforces to make the plants safer to accommodate peoples’ needs to stay home with family if they had to quarantine," said Fisher. "And so the amount of chicken that processing plants could handle on any one day fell in March and April and May.”
Fisher adds that meant processing plants took fewer chickens, cutting chicken farmers’ income as they were forced to hold on to their flocks longer. But growers say things are starting to bounce back this year.
Fisher says there was some good news in the report - the poultry industry maintained its long-term investments in Delmarva’s economy and environment.