In a meeting with state lawmakers from the Eastern Shore (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia), poultry industry officials expressed concerns that the business is in for a challenging 2011 due to factors like high grain prices, stricter state regulations and the impact of a down economy.
"This is going to be a tough year in the chicken industry, a real tough year of belt-tightening, because of a number of factors," said Bill Satterfield, the executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industries Inc. He said the poultry industry is dealing with record-high grain prices, high fuel prices, a dwindling export market and declining restaurant sales due to the struggling economy.
An additional concern involves area stormwater management regulations, which Kenny Bounds, chairman of DPI's government relations committee, said are having a negative impact on the poultry industry. Due to these regulations, the site work for a new poultry house now costs 300% more, making construction financially prohibitive. A report on the issue has been prepared for the Maryland Department of the Environment.
In spite of the challenges, some large poultry companies, including Allen Family Foods, Perdue and Mountaire Farms, have been investing in new buildings and expanded operations on the Eastern Shore. Production, however, has remained flat, according to Satterfield.