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Grain Prices, Slowing Sales Affect Delaware Farmers

30 April 2012, at 10:55am

US - High grain prices, lagging sales and industry turmoil weighed heavily on Delaware's poultry growers in 2011, with state grower output falling by 7.3 per cent to 217.8 million birds, according to federal statistics released last week.

According to Delaware Online, State and industry officials said Delaware's decline might have been worsened by last year's bankruptcy of Allen Family Foods and initially lower rates of production as South Korea-based Harim revived Allen's former processing operations.

Delaware farms produced 234.2 million birds in 2010 and has seen production fall significantly since a high in 2005, when local farms sent out an all-time record 282.5 million birds, reports Delaware Online.

Last year's state poultry house output was the lowest since 1988, when 217.5 million birds were sent to market.

The state now ranks 12th in broiler production nationwide, down from 11th last year, with the value of production falling by about $73 million compared with the year before.

Virginia's 2011 broiler farm output also fell by more than 6 million birds, to 243.8 million, but Maryland output rose 3.5 per cent, to 311.1 million birds. Nationwide, the total weight of broilers was up 1 per cent, to 49.7 billion pounds and 8.61 billion birds.

"Last year was probably the toughest financial year in the history of the American chicken industry," said Bill Satterfield, executive director of Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc.

Led by a run-up in corn prices, feed costs were up 41 per cent compared with 2010, Satterfield said. Recession-stunted demand drove down sales and revenues, while fuel costs pressured production and transportation.