Delmarva Poultry Industry

Chickens are big business on Delmarva. This year’s National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing, and Live Production will be held virtually due to COVID-19.

CENTREVILLE — The Delmarva Poultry Industry’s 55th National Meeting on Poultry Health, Processing, and Live Production, a scientific and educational gathering for the U.S. chicken industry, will return Sept. 28-30. The event is customarily held in Ocean City, but this year DPI has made the conference an all-virtual event — a first in its history — because of COVID-19.

Delmarva’s chicken industry is a $3.4 billion annual business.

“It’s a major economy on the Shore. Ag is a big driver. You have chicken and allied businesses like a tractor dealer or a grocery store,” said Jenny Rhodes, principle agent for agriculture and food for the University of Maryland for Queen Anne’s County.

There are a lot of topics covered in the conference. “Nutrition, bacteria, viruses, the policy side and supply chain issues with COVID,” Rhodes listed a few.

“Anyone can attend from processing to production. I go every year. Usually I am a moderator, but this year I will be speaking. I’ll be talking about how poultry farmers can be good neighbors,” Rhodes said.

Having the conference virtual has up sides and down sides.

“One good thing is you can bring any speaker in. Before it was so expensive to bring someone in from far away. This year we have someone from UC Davis. It is also hard for growers to leave their farm this time of year,” she said. “... We have 28 speakers and panels lined up.”

This change allows anyone in the worldwide chicken community to attend three days of informative sessions from home or office for one $99 registration fee. To help Delmarva chicken growers access new insights into safe, effective live production methods delivered during the conference, DPI is offering chicken growers who are DPI members a discounted $49 registration fee.

More than 20 veterinarians, chicken company leaders, government officials, researchers, extension educators, and animal health officials will deliver presentations at the meeting on topics including supply chain disruptions, air quality impacts from animal agriculture, employee safety in the COVID-19 pandemic, robotic poultry deboning trials, platinum brooding practices, and more. Twenty-six companies supplying products and services to the chicken industry are sponsoring the conference, including platinum sponsors Merck Animal Health, Boehringer Ingelheim, Farm Credit, Aviagen, Best Veterinary Solutions, Inc., and United Animal Health, along with session panel sponsors Evonik and Zoetis. A complete agenda, as well as registration information, can be found at dpichicken.org, where quick, simple online registration is available.

“The need for cutting-edge research in poultry health, food and worker safety and animal welfare is greater now than ever before, and we are pleased to be able to continue our tradition of offering a dynamic agenda, but in a virtual setting,” said Holly Porter, DPI’s executive director. “We’re looking forward to an engaging, productive conference in a format that makes it easier than ever for the chicken community to take part in the National Meeting.”

“We appreciate DPI working to adapt in the face of COVID-19. This conference helps bring together people throughout our industry to share best practices and innovative new ideas to help keep us competitive,” said Catherine M. Bassett, director of communications and community relations Mountaire Farms.

“It was the safest thing we could do for our community, but going virtually presents opportunities as well. Because of the virtual conference we can have lower costs and we can have speakers of higher caliber. For example we have Dr. Frank Mitloehner of UC Davis. His work points out some of the myths of air quality and greenhouse gases created by chicken farms,” said James Fisher, communication manager for Delmarva Poultry Industry.

He also said, “I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that September is National Chicken Month.”

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