A Review of Animal Agriculture in the Region: Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy

A Review of Animal Agriculture in the Region: Livestock, Poultry, and Dairy

Many thanks to PSPA President Dr. Scott Sheely for an excellent program on December 2, 2021  at the Union League of Philadelphia.   We welcomed new members and guests, recognized recipients of Fred Winter Memorial Scholarships,  learned from experts about the economic impact of, and challenges facing Animal Agriculture in the Region with energetic Q&A, and had a delicious lunch with great conversations.

Dr. Sheely coordinated the first-ever hybrid meeting of in-person and Zoom attendance.  We had a bunch of people that wanted to attend our first in-person meeting at the Union League but were unable to do so because of health and COVID related concerns

PSPA’s Membership Chair Dr. Kevin Hicks welcomed new members Ms. Margaret Risley and Dr. Tiffany Turrentine.  Ms. Risley plans to pursue urban farming in Philadelphia.  She has worked in real estate, estate gardening  with the Rose Valley Museum & Historical Society.  Dr. Turrentine is a Veterinary Technology teacher and Race & Equity co-coordinator at the W.B. Saul agriculture magnet School and serves on the PA Dept. of Agriculture Workforce Development Commission. Dr. Turrentine earned her PhD in Education at Drexel University and previously worked in biotechnology.

Hicks also welcomed five new member prospects and moved the members present be accepted into membership.  They were approved unanimously.  They included…

  1. Brook Duer, Lawyer, Penn State, Center for Agricultural and Shale Law
  2. Kurt Fuchs, Senior Vice-President, Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit
  3. Kerry Golden, Executive Director, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee, PA House of Representatives
  4. Melissa Bravo, Agronomy Assistant Professor, Rutgers University, Salem County Agent
  5. Matthew Ross, Director, Continuing Education, Longwood Gardens

Ms. Barbara Winters introduced PSPA’s Fred Winter Memorial Scholarship awardees Yahel Ben-Zvi, a PhD candidate in Entomology at Rutgers University, and Meghan Bundick, a Horticulture major at West Virginia University, during PSPA’s December 2 meeting at the Union League of Philadelphia.  . Dr. Carl Brown, PSPA’s Education Chair, heads the Committee that selected these awardees based on their excellence in scholarship, research, work experience and extracurricular activities.  Winter scholarships are awarded annually to excellent college juniors and seniors who plan to pursue careers in Horticulture.

Pennsylvania in the top 10 nationwide in revenue from production of eggs, chicken, turkeys and other poultry. Dr. Josh Scheinberg, Eastern Regional Director for the PA Department of Agriculture, spoke about the economic impact of, and major issues facing animal agriculture in PA.

What would you do if you ordered 50 chicks and received 500?  That’s how Ms. Cecile Steele started the US meat chicken industry in Oceanview, Delaware in 1923. She ‘pivoted’ from producing eggs to selling chicken meat at 62¢/lb, equal to $5/lb today. By 1926, she was ordering 10,000 chicks.  The DelMarVa region is now a major producer of meat chickens with familiar brands Perdue, Tyson, and more. Holly Hunter, Executive Director of the Delmarva Chicken Association, spoke about this AND issues caused by the Covid pandemic.  Learn about all this plus the ‘3 legged stool’ of chicken growers, chicken companies, and grain farmers at the 9:26 mark here https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/UsohneqMFHEHappikfpeEJySqAPf7612WQ9ChFFMRA97wFvRbNRoKZOyrdGNZVec.X_salCvalhizl_HG.  And about Cecile Steele here https://www.secretsoftheeasternshore.com/character-cecile-steele/

How does animal agriculture in our region compare to the US as a whole?  How did Maryland animal agriculture fare during Covid?  According to Steve Connelly, Assistant Secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture, the ‘Buy Local’ movement helped MD independent meat farmers (a good thing), but contract chicken growers suffered; they were not eligible for initial federal Covid relief funds.  Maryland quickly stepped in with its MD Farmer Covid 19 Relief Program and formed a Food Supply Task Force, working with counterparts in DE and VA to solve common problems.  Mr. Connelly spoke about this and much more.  View his presentation at the 24:45 minute mark here https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/UsohneqMFHEHappikfpeEJySqAPf7612WQ9ChFFMRA97wFvRbNRoKZOyrdGNZVec.X_salCvalhizl_HG

Think about dairies and the Covid pandemic.  Pennsylvania is #2 in the number of dairy farms nationwide, second only to Wisconsin.  Amish and Mennonite farmers own many of PA’s dairy farms, however, and don’t accept government funds (including Covid aid).  How did the PA diary industry survive the pandemic?  Pennsylvania’s Center for Dairy Excellence, a government/industry nonprofit, helped PA dairy farmers face these challenges and more, according to Risk Education Manager Zach Myers.   See his presentation here, at the 35:40 minute mark   https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/UsohneqMFHEHappikfpeEJySqAPf7612WQ9ChFFMRA97wFvRbNRoKZOyrdGNZVec.X_salCvalhizl_HG

Click here to connect with the tape of the program.  Click here for more on the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture.