“This announcement recognizes how crucial the chicken community is to Delmarva’s economy, and it acknowledges chicken growers faced sudden business disruptions none of them could have foreseen or prevented,” Porter said. “The chicken industry never called time out during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the food web held together under real stress. Chicken growers saw significant income interruptions, and while federal aid has helped repair balance sheets for other U.S. farmers, contract chicken growers have been left on the sidelines. With this grant program, Gov. Carney and Gov. Hogan are delivering real assistance to farmers who suffered losses from COVID-19, and DPI applauds their commitment to the chicken community.”
Chicken companies in Delaware and Maryland placed 45 percent fewer chicks in farmers’ chicken houses in early May, after quarantine measures and business closures took effect around the country, than those companies had placed two months earlier. Only 6 million chicks were placed in family farmers’ chicken houses in Delaware and Maryland the first week of May, a significant decline compared to the 10.7 million chicks placed on those farms in the first week of March. That drop in chicks placed represents lost income for Delmarva’s more than 1,300 farmers raising chicken in contractual agreements with chicken processing companies. Contract chicken growers are ineligible to receive aid from the USFA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
DPI statistics about the Delmarva chicken industry for 2019 -- the most recent year data are available - can be found here.