CAMDEN, DEL. – The Delaware Farm Bureau (DEFB) conducted a poultry and livestock farmers survey regarding the need for an additional USDA-inspected processing facility.

The group worked with Pennsylvania and Maryland Farm Bureaus and Brandon McFadden, PhD, associate professor in the University of Delaware’s Department of Applied Economics and Statistics to collect the data.

Results from 436 respondents showed that 82% of farmers need additional USDA-inspected slaughterhouses. The same amount of people indicated they would travel 50 miles on average to a facility.  

The survey showed that smaller farmers expressed a greater need for an additional processing facility compared to larger farms. DFB categorized a small beef farm as less than 1,000 head.

Smaller farms also indicated they would be less willing to travel as long a distance as larger farmers to process meat. Smaller farms said they were willing to go 47 miles, on average, while larger farms were willing to travel 70 miles.

In additional questions, 46% of farmers said they had difficulty scheduling timely processing dates before the pandemic, reducing profits by an estimated 13%. The percentage of farmers reporting trouble with facility scheduling jumped to 79% during the pandemic, reducing profits by an estimated 25%.

Herd and flock size remain low for many farmers with a limited processing capacity. More than 60% of the farmers surveyed said they would increase direct marketing sales if an additional processing facility opened.

Later in the survey, farmers said they would like an additional facility to be equipped with vacuum-sealing, value-added services and custom packaging for optional services. 

Delaware Farm Bureau’s survey was launched with a grant from the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Strategic Action Fund.