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Delmarva Chicken Association mark 100 years of growth

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Delmarva Chicken Association (DCA) has launched a year-long educational campaign, “Growing For 100 Years,” to honor the development and expansion of the meat chicken business, which had its start in Ocean View, Delaware, a century ago.

ImageWhen Cecile Steele of Sussex County, Delaware unintentionally received a cargo of 500 hens in 1923, she helped to launch the business. She and her husband Wilmer created the first broiler chicken farm in Delmarva as a result of this. This Delaware family developed a farm dedicated to growing chickens not for eggs but for food in just three years, constructing coops for 10,000 chicks in the process.

Since the establishment of the first broiler flock in 1923, the business has made incredible strides, providing generations of family farmers with a means of subsisting off the land, supporting Delmarva’s economy, and safeguarding the environment by using less resources to produce more chicken. To produce the $4.5 billion worth of chicken that is produced annually on Delmarva, more than 1,300 family farmers, 18,000 employees of poultry companies, and hundreds of related businesses collaborate.

“Cecile Steele’s inspired idea 100 years ago has impacted not only the Delmarva region, but America and the world,” DCA Executive Director Holly Porter said. “This campaign is about paying tribute to the farmers, chicken companies, and allied businesses advancing the industry, and looking forward to the bright future ahead for the chicken community.”

2023 is also the 75th anniversary of Delmarva Chicken Association, founded in 1948 to organize the Delmarva Chicken Festival and formerly known as Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc.

To kick off the Growing For 100 Years campaign, DCA and presenting sponsor Perdue Farms hosted a launch event at the Delaware Agricultural Museum in Dover, Del. on Saturday, February 11. More than 150 industry leaders, innovators, farmers, lawmakers and officials attended to mark the occasion.

Delaware’s congressional delegation of U.S. Senators Tom Carper, Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester (all D-Del.) honored this milestone in a Congressional Record Statement.

“The industry may have started with an accidental delivery, but we can look back on it now as an amazing economic opportunity for Delmarva and the thousands of families it supports,” Senator Carper said. “Raising broiler chickens is a way of life for the more than 1,300 farm families on Delmarva whose hard work provides food for hundreds of thousands of people in our country and around the world.”

“100 years ago, a resourceful woman from Sussex County created an industry that feeds the world today,” Delaware Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long said. “Chicken is vital to Delaware’s economy, and it’s an honor to help celebrate the 100th anniversary of Cecile Steele’s first flock.”

“Delaware’s mild climate, infrastructure, and closeness to key markets smoothed the way, but the growth of the chicken industry happened thanks to hard work by farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs,” Michael T. Scuse, Delaware’s Secretary of Agriculture said. “On this important anniversary, we thank generations of farmers and companies who dedicated themselves to feeding their neighbors.”

“Chicken producers’ positive economic impact stretches from coast to coast, hits every sector of the U.S. economy and is felt in every congressional district,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “We’re also committed to environmentally responsible chicken production practices to ensure a healthier planet, and chicken production in the U.S. is more sustainable than ever before.”

Visitors and residents of Delmarva can anticipate learning about the meat chicken industry on TV, digital platforms, publications, and billboards around the area, and at local events in Maryland and Delaware throughout the year.

Learn more about what this 100th anniversary means at www.dcachicken.com.

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