Only One “C” Remains

In speaking engagements statewide, Senator Tom Carper has often mentioned the three C’s of Delaware. He’s referring to Delaware’s rich history in the economic industries of cars, chemicals, and chickens. It looks as though he will have to edit his speech as only one lone “C” seems to remain strong in Delaware.

Chemicals-Founded in 1802, the three DuPont cousins transformed gunpowder making to chemicals. The manufacturing company went through many transformations over the years but settled on the sciences-centering it’s focus on food, seed, and biofuels. The company seemed to embrace agriculture with its “Pioneer” seed division, crop protection chemicals, and in-feed animal nutrition and biosecurity products. However, 2015 will forever be known as the year DuPont merged with the Michigan based company known as Dow Chemical Co. The new name? “DowDuPont”. Delaware has lost its lone chemical empire and the single name giant. What does this mean for local agriculture? Will farmers buy seed from a Michigan based seed sales rep? How long before this sales rep is based in China? What is the economic impact on our state? No one seems to know or at least no one is talking. State elected leaders were quick to post sad comments on social media as the news broke. Too little, too late. It can’t be the way our Governor wanted to end his last year in office and 2016 is an election year.

Cars-The industry fell apart in 2009 with the exit of the Chrysler plant in Newark, DE. Soon thereafter, the old GM plant turned Fisker fell bankrupt right under the state’s nose; an epic fail at the start of the Markell administration.

Chickens-Only one shining star remains. The lone “C” is chickens and it’s Sussex County’s claim to fame. The poultry industry began in 1923 in Ocean View, DE when Cecile Steele mistakenly was delivered 500 chicks. She only ordered 50 to replace her laying flock. She kept them, raised them, and sold 387 survivors for 62 cents a pound. Here we are 93 years later and Sussex County ranks #1 in U.S. broiler production, producing over 200 million birds each year. There are more than 1,500 poultry farms on Delmarva with more than 4,600 individual houses. The economic impact is huge with a total of over 13,000 jobs and an aggregate output of $3.2. billion. But the industry is not invincible. Farmers and state officials are preparing for the outbreak of avian influenza to hit. A proposed “water tax” keeps popping up in the Delaware General Assembly, which could hurt all farmers not just poultry growers. Nutrient management laws are being shoved down farmers’ throats. Animal welfare activists claim poultry growers are “factory farms” and have tried to gain access to local chicken house facilities to claim abuse. Will elected officials take note and protect a thriving downstate industry? Or will they post on social media the day after the industry is gone? Thank goodness for those working behind the scenes to advocate for poultry farmers such as Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) and the DE Farm Bureau. But is it enough? Senator Carper, you may not have any C’s left.

Little Wagon Family in the News

Who doesn’t love their picture in the paper? Especially when it recognizes a milestone in your life or the work that you do. So here’s a recap, in news clipping pictures, of Little Wagon Produce Family in the news from the past few months.

Mom-Mom Messick turned 83 on Valentine's Day.

Mom-Mom Messick turned 83 on Valentine’s Day.

Uncle Doug & Jesse (cousin) were in the paper this winter because Doug nominated the Kiwanis group for a $2,500 award through the "America's Farmers Grow Communities" program. The money has been earmarked for students in the Woodbridge FFA chapter. Jesse accepted the check as Kiwanis President.

Uncle Doug & Jesse (cousin) were in the paper this winter because Doug nominated the Kiwanis group for a $2,500 award through the “America’s Farmers Grow Communities” program. The money has been earmarked for students in the Woodbridge FFA chapter. Jesse accepted the check as Kiwanis President.

Bethany (cousin) just finished her freshman year at Misercordia University in Dallas, PA. She ran fall cross country, winter track, and spring track.

Bethany (cousin) just finished her freshman year at Misercordia University in Dallas, PA. She ran fall cross country, winter track, and spring track.

In April, Pop-Pop Bill received the "Delmarva Distinguished Citizen" award from DPI (Delmarva Poultry Industry). He was recognized mainly for his board service on the Sussex Soil Conservation District (which provides support to Sussex poultry growers).

In April, Pop-Pop Vanderwende received the “Delmarva Distinguished Citizen” award from DPI (Delmarva Poultry Industry). He was recognized for all of his contributions to agriculture but mainly for his board service on the Sussex Soil Conservation District (which provides support to Sussex poultry growers).

Not exactly a newspaper, but I found out through family that my face is plastered to this bilboard on Rt 404 east. Not sure how many beach tourists know that ethanol comes from corn, which I'm standing in front of but maybe they'll get the point. Or maybe they'll google it when they see how much gas has gone up in recent weeks.

Not exactly a newspaper, but I found out through family that my face is plastered to this billboard on Rt 404 east (in MD near Rt. 313 exit). Not sure how many beach tourists know that ethanol comes from corn, which I’m standing in front of, but maybe they’ll Google it when they see how much the price of gas has gone up in recent weeks. Maryland Grain Producers paid for this advertising and there are other billboards on the Eastern Shore promoting agriculture. Apparently ethanol contracts for July are running almost $1 cheaper per gallon than gasoline, making ethanol blends even cheaper than the 52 cents mentioned here. You may see the video ad in this article on national news this Sunday.