Poultry Industry: Looking at the Bright Side (Part I)

We always hear the side of environmental groups and animal rights activists when a story about poultry industry comes up. But every story has two sides.

This time, we will focus more on the stories of people favoring the poultry industry. Let us share with you the article posted at delmarvanow.com about farmers, poultry plant employee and industry representative in Virginia, USA speaking up in defense of poultry industry.

They spoke to Accomack County officials about the benefits the poultry industry provides to the region on the day before an environmental group was scheduled to hold a World Water Day rally in the county, targeting Tyson Foods.

Four people spoke favorably about the poultry industry, and one speaker asked for more stringent regulation of it during a public comment period at the Accomack County Board of Supervisors’ meeting Wednesday night.

“I want to give you a short story of a young boy who went to a poultry company at the age of 18 years old, no formal education. He went to a poultry company because he wanted to make some money in the summertime,” said Calvin Washington, who later rose to become assistant plant manager at the Tyson Foods poultry processing plant in Temperanceville.

Washington said he was able to put children through college, purchase a home and car, and otherwise prosper because of the opportunities Tyson Foods provided him.

“I’m ecstatic,” he said, adding, “… I was always told, if you’re going to make a great living, you’ve got to leave the Eastern Shore — not so. Because of this poultry industry, I’ve been able to thrive; my family has been able to enjoy a good life, and we’ve been able to invest money in properties and all types of things here on the Eastern Shore.”

Dave Lovell, a poultry farmer who lives in Onancock, also said the industry has provided him the opportunity to make a good living.

“I wanted to go work, to do something and just try to make my way in life,” he said.

Lovell said raising chickens, which he has been doing for more than 26 years, “has treated me very well.”

Lovell said he now has six employees.

“My lowest paid guy gets 10 bucks an hour — a high school kid who works part time. I’ve got two guys who make over $45,000 a year. It’s treated us well, and I really appreciate the support this board has given the industry in the past,” he said, saying of the poultry industry, “We are the bread and butter; we are more of the basic foundation, economic foundation … of this county — and we appreciate your continued support of that.”

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