Three Sanderson Farms family farmers in Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina have been recognized by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Awards at the International Production & Processing Expo. The awards are given annually to recognize exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.

“It is a privilege to recognize these family farms for the excellent job they do in being good stewards of their land,” said Greg Hinton, outgoing chairman for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and vice president of sales for Rose Acre Farms. “Our industry could not continue to function and thrive without taking proper care of our natural resources, and these family farms should be commended for those efforts.”

Award applicants were rated in several categories including litter management, nutrient management, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques and participation in education or outreach programs. While selecting national winners and finalists for the competition, applications were reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and poultry associations. Award winners were selected from five geographic regions throughout the U.S. and include family farms nominated by the Iowa Poultry Association, Kentucky Poultry Federation, Cargill, Butterball and Sanderson Farms.

Of the five award winners, Sanderson Farms family farmers, Donald and Danielle Urbanovsky, were selected as the winner of the Southwest region. Growing breeder chickens for the company’s Bryan, Texas, production division, Urbanovsky Farms, has over six years of experience in poultry farming and takes very seriously their responsibility to environmental sustainability.

“As a grower, it is our responsibility to provide safe and healthy poultry for consumers,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “We also must be aware of global food safety and economic sustainability by operating with transparency, educating others and providing environmental benefits.”

Winners representing other poultry producers and associations from the remaining four geographic regions in the U.S. include the Mid-Atlantic region winner, the Wolfepack Farm of Harrisonburg, Virginia; the South Central region winner, the Dalen Bell Farm of Tuscumbia, Missouri; the Southeast region winner, the Infinity Ranch of Lamar, Arkansas; and the State Poultry Association winner, the Green Ridge Family Farm of Weldon, Iowa. 

In addition to the five award winners chosen from each geographic region, the association also nominated five finalists in their competition who received honorable mentions. Two of those five finalists were Sanderson Farms family farmers representing the states of Mississippi and North Carolina. The remaining three competition finalists representing other poultry producers and associations include the South Central region finalist, the Gabel Farm of Galena, Missouri; the Southwest region finalist, the KD Farm of Stillwell, Oklahoma; and the State Poultry Association finalist, the Triple Cross Farm of Mayfield, Kentucky. 

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Earning the finalist recognition for the Mid-Atlantic region was Sanderson Farms family farmers, Tyler and Janna Bass, who own and operate Crane Creek Farms in Clinton, North Carolina. Growing broiler chickens for the past eight years, the Bass family is passionate about farming, including growing hogs, cows and six other crops including fresh produce on their farm.

“It is our responsibility as poultry growers to analyze all areas that may have an impact on the environment,” said Bass. “From waterways to the soil we stand on to the air we breathe—it all needs protecting, not just for our farm’s vitality, but for the health of others, our communities and the world. We have a responsibility to feed consumers safe and nutritious products, but we must keep the environment safe in the process.” 

Following suit as finalists for the Southeast region was Seth Simmons, Sanderson Farms family farmer and owner and operator of A.B. Simmons Poultry in Purvis, Mississippi. A third generation poultry farmer, Simmons has seen sustainability practices in poultry farming evolve over the decades, and he believes they have evolved for the better.

“Overall, we feel a huge responsibility to our environment, and that goes beyond simply checking the box of compliance with government regulation,” said Simmons. “We consider it our responsibility to share farm litter management practices with our neighbors. This includes the large-scale broiler chicken farmers nearby, as well as the hobby gardener who may be interested in using a small amount of litter for fertilizing and growing the perfect tomato crop.” 

Founded in 1947, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is based in Tucker, Georgia, and progressively serves its poultry and egg members through research, education, communications and technical services. The association recognizes members of its industry through several annual competitions including the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Awards, Clean Water Awards and Feed Facility of the Year Awards.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work these family farmers have dedicated to perfecting their craft, growing healthy birds and protecting the environment around them,” said Mike Tamimi, director of production for Sanderson Farms. “Achieving excellence in poultry farming is no easy feat, and these family farmers have achieved excellence on a national scale alongside only a few peers from other poultry producers and associations.”