To better serve poultry farmers in Delaware and nearby states, Delaware Farm Bureau partnered with Pennsylvania and Maryland Farm Bureaus and Brandon McFadden, Ph.D., associate professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Applied Economics and Statistics, to survey poultry and livestock farmers about the need for an additional USDA-inspected processing facility in the region.
The 436 usable responses indicated the vast majority of farmers (82%) see a need for an additional USDA-inspected slaughterhouse in the region. The same amount of respondents indicated they were willing to travel 50 miles, on average, to such a facility.
Smaller farms – beef farms with less than 1,000 head, for example – expressed a greater need for an additional processing facility than larger farms. However, smaller farms were less willing to travel as far as larger farmers to process the meat. Smaller farms said they were willing to go 47 miles, on average, while larger farms were willing to travel 70 miles.
In terms of scheduling processing dates before and after the onset of the pandemic, 46% of farmers had difficulty scheduling timely processing dates before the pandemic, reducing their profits by an estimated 13%. The percentage of farmers reporting trouble with facility scheduling jumped to 79% during the pandemic, reducing profits by an estimate 25%.
Limited processing capacity is also keeping many farmers from increasing their herd or flock size. More than 60% of the farmers surveyed said they would increase direct marking sales if an additional processing facility opened. In addition, farmers said if another facility were built, they would like it to offer vacuum-sealing, value-added services and custom packaging as optional services.
Strategic Action Fund
Delaware Farm Bureau’s survey was launched with a grant from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Strategic Action Fund. Through the fund, state Farm Bureaus with fewer than 25,000 members were eligible to apply for funding of up to $5,000 for public policy-related projects.
Several state Farm Bureaus – Idaho, Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas – each contributed $1,000 to the Strategic Action Fund for the 2021 round of projects.