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Driving innovation in Delaware's agribusiness industry

Perdue Farms: Driving innovation in Delaware’s agribusiness industry

 

 

From the egg to the chicken and back again, Perdue Farms is the country’s third-largest poultry company in sales and one of the mainstays of Delaware’s agribusiness industry. Recent activities have strengthened Perdue’s connection to the State and reflect the company’s commitment to responsible growth and stewardship in the industry. 

 

Championing organic poultry

At a recently expanded poultry processing plant down in Milford, Delaware, things are being done a little differently, to ensure that the plant complies with USDA standards for certified organic processing plants.

The plant, owned and operated by Perdue Farms, is the first certified organic poultry processing plant on the Delmarva Peninsula. The plant processes chickens that have been raised on certified organic farms–including in Delaware–that earn the right to carry the coveted USDA Organic label.

“We’ve seen a steady increase of demand for organic products, and this plant expansion will help us to provide our customers with more choices,” says Perdue spokesperson Julie DeYoung The $18 million dollar expansion of the Milford plant is one of several recent initiatives by Perdue in Delaware, where poultry plays an important role in the State’s economy, generating $927.7 million in sales in 2013. Perdue’s Georgetown plant supports the company’s continued commitment to its core PERDUE(R) brand. Perdue’s seed-processing facility in Bridgeville, Delaware expanded grain handling and storage to support local grain purchasing, while Perdue AgriRecycle, a first-of-its-kind recycling facility in Seaford converts chicken litter (manure, bedding, spilled feed and feathers from the chicken houses) into organic fertilizer for farming and landscaping.

Perdue chose Delaware for the recycling operation for several reasons, including its offer of financial assistance and its willingness to work with Perdue to bring together the companies and farmers who will benefit from the facility. “Our AgriRecycle facility provides a solution for farmers who don’t have another outlet for their litter, and is keeping nutrients out of the Chesapeake Bay watershed while producing an organic fertilizer source,” DeYoung explains.

 

Operations cover all the bases

 

“We believe in responsible food and agriculture.”

 

Perdue has been operating in the region since 1920, and over the years its operations have gone from selling table eggs to becoming an innovative leader in the poultry industry. The company provides independent poultry farmers with chicks from its hatcheries, as well as feed and healthcare for the birds. Perdue collects the market-age birds and takes them to their plants for processing and distribution. In Delaware alone, the company works with 280 poultry farmers who produce more than 95 million birds a year for the company.

 

280 poultry farmers

95 million birds a year

 

Perdue serves the region’s farmers through grain storage and receiving facilities at several sites in Southern Delaware and Maryland, and connects them to national and international markets. The company also has a barge dock in Seaford and occasionally uses the Port of Wilmington.

Perdue’s corporate responsibility platform “We believe in responsible food and agriculture” outlines the company’s responsibility to each of its constituencies, adds DeYoung. “Part of that is our responsibility to our communities and to our associates. For example, Wellness Centers at our Georgetown and Milford operations provide associates and covered dependents with easy access to affordable primary health care.”

 

The Delaware Advantage

The company enjoys a good relationship with the State that allows it to address regulatory, environmental and other industry issues in a way that is respectful and constructive, DeYoung says. “We look at the poultry industry as a three-legged stool: There are the companies like Perdue, the farmers that raise the chickens, and the farms that raise the feed grain,” she explains. “It’s important that each of the legs is strong for the industry to thrive, and that can only happen with the support of the State.”

 


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