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Grants available for Delmarva poultry growers affected by COVID-19

Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock aerial view of poultry farm barns
Program will offer grants of $1,000 per house, up to $5,000 per farm, with $10 million from CARES Act.

Delaware Gov. John Carney, along with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, announced a new grant program to assist contract poultry growers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contract poultry growers were not eligible for the federal Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) funds, despite being affected by market and supply chain disruptions that caused greater layout times and reduced placements. Additionally, some growers were greatly affected by depopulation of their flocks and in-house composting that prohibited them from placing new flocks for an extended period of time.

“The poultry industry on Delmarva is second to none, and it’s because of the long-standing working relationships that we have across state lines, especially when it comes to supporting our family farms,” Carney said. “COVID-19 has impacted all of us, but for the poultry growers who take pride in putting safe, nutritious food on your table, many of the roadblocks that COVID-19 threw at them were out of their control. This grant program is an opportunity once again for both our states to show our support for our family farms.”

Growers are paid on their performance in raising chickens on contract for integrated poultry companies, but the actual ownership of the birds remains with the companies. Unfortunately, due to this technicality, contract poultry growers were not eligible for USDA’s CFAP funds.

“I am pleased to announce that we are immediately launching a new relief program, which will provide direct payments to thousands of Maryland farmers, growers and producers who have been hurt by COVID-19,” Hogan said. “Far too often, our farmers don’t get the respect or the appreciation they deserve, but I want our entire ag community to know that your commitment to our state and to our ag industry does not go unnoticed.”

The Delaware and Maryland departments of agriculture will be administering the program and accepting applications until Dec. 1, 2020.

“Because of the disruption of markets, labor availability for the companies to run at full capacity in the processing plants and other COVID-19-related impacts, Delaware growers were faced with longer-than-normal layout times and saw a decrease in the number of birds placed,” Delaware secretary of agriculture Michael T. Scuse said. “In some cases, farms were required to depopulate birds because a company did not have the ability to process the birds. All of these factors created significant reductions in grower pay and hardships for our family farms that are vital to our economy.”

The grant program will compensate Delaware contract poultry growers who had an active grower contract in force on facilities located in Delaware on March 15 (when COVID-19 affected the state), have an approved concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) permit or have filed a notice of intent for CAFO coverage and do not have business interruption coverage for the losses covered by the grant program.

For poultry growers who meet these requirements, the grant program will compensate $1,000 per poultry house, up to a maximum payment of $5,000 per farm. In addition, any grower who meets the criteria laid out and had to depopulate birds remaining in house for composting related to COVID-19 will receive another $1,500 per poultry house depopulated without a cap.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture will issue direct payments of $1,000 per poultry house (capped at five houses) to eligible Maryland contract poultry growers. In addition to these payments, the department will administer an extra $1,500 for each poultry house that was depopulated due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (no cap).

Applications for the Delaware Contract Poultry Grower Grant Assistant Program are available online at agriculture.delaware.gov/grants-loans and will be accepted by the Delaware Department of Agriculture until Dec. 1. Applicants must complete a W-9 form online (esupplier.erp.delaware.gov) prior to receiving payment.

Additional information on the Maryland application is available here.

The Mississippi Poultry Farmer Stabilization Grant Fund was included within the Mississippi Agriculture Stabilization Act (MASA), which was signed into law on October 9, 2020. The program, funded at $3 million, is a self-certification program in which the farmer substantiates their losses as close to the dollar amount as possible. Funds are disbursed on a first-come, first-serve basis. The covered period is March 1 through December 30, 2020.

The Mississippi program can be found here.

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