“It will get me through”: Poultry farmer reacts to new COVID-19 grant program
DELMARVA – Help is on the way for poultry farmers across Delmarva. As the industry grapples with its own challenges during the pandemic many local growers are experiencing major financial losses but a new grant program may offer some relief.
“That’s a huge help and the fact that it’s coming directly to us, that’s great,” says Mary Lou Brown, a Hurlock poultry farmer.
On Monday, poultry farmers across Delmarva received some welcome news. “They are living on the edge and just like any other small business which they are they are really struggling,” says Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.
The Governors of both Maryland and Delaware announced much needed financial relief for contract growers impacted by the pandemic. “I couldn’t be more excited about our two departments of agriculture working together,” says Delaware Governor John Carney.
Through this relief program, poultry farmers will have the chance to be reimbursed $1,000 per chicken house with a maximum of five houses. “In addition any growers who’s flocks were depopulated during the pandemic will be able to receive an additional $1,500 per house,” says Gov. Hogan.
This comes at a time when poultry farmers have had to keep up with the industry’s evolving conditions during the pandemic. For some, they’ve had to sell their birds earlier than usual which means their birds don’t weigh as much and that hurts when they get paid by the pound.
“We grow a 56 day bird and at one point Accomack got back up into full production again after they had to shut down some lines and they needed birds so my birds went at 49 days but it’s been a challenge because that’s less money overall,” says Brown.
Governor Hogan says this program will help stabilize the food supply chain while, more importantly, supporting farmers who are responsible for feeding communities across the country.
“It will get me through. It will help me and make a difference instead of having to go into my operating line of credit I can use this money to make the difference and I need to pay some bills,” says Brown.
47 ABC also asked Governor Hogan how this money compares to what poultry growers have missed out on. He says it’s not going to make the losses just go away but he believes it will help farmers who are struggling to make it month to month.
Maryland farmers who received federal funding from the first round of CFAP payments are also eligible for a 15 percent bonus payment through this program.
The applications are now open online. The deadline to apply in both Maryland and Delaware is December 1st.