Outstanding Persons Recognized at Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. Banquet

Hundreds of persons supportive of the Delmarva Peninsula's chicken community gathered in Salisbury, Maryland on the evening of April 15 for the Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. (DPI) Booster Banquet, the 1,800-member trade association's annual membership dinner. During its 59th banquet, DPI recognized 12 outstanding chicken growers and three individuals for their work on behalf of the chicken industry.

The J. Frank Gordy, Sr. Delmarva Distinguished Citizen Award, DPI's highest honor, was presented to Jenny Rhodes of Queen Anne's County, Maryland.

Miss Rhodes, a chicken grower and University of Maryland Extension Educator, has been a leader in the chicken industry and agricultural community for years. She owns and operates with her sons Deerfield Farms LLC, a 110-acre poultry and grain operation. She was president of Delmarva Poultry Industry, Inc. in 2013. She remains an active member of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Grower Committee that she chaired in 2006 and 2007, Environmental Committee, and Government Relations Committee.

Miss Rhodes is an outstanding communicator for the chicken industry and farming in general, making herself available for news interviews, presentations to groups, in one-on-one meetings, and through the so-called social media. DPI noted that if there were more chicken growers and farmers like her, many more people would have a better understanding about how food is produced.

She is a member of the Maryland Agricultural Commission, an advisory group to the Secretary of Agriculture, and has been active in the Queen Anne's County Farm Bureau, Foundation for Community Partnerships, the Queen Anne's County Soil Conservation District, and serves as a member of the Board of Directors of MidAtlantic Farm Credit.

Her experiences with 4-H, FFA, and LEAD Maryland have ncreased her knowledge about agriculture while developing and improving her people and leadership skills. Miss Rhodes was employed for ten years with the University of Maryland Cooperative Extension as a Nutrient Management Advisor. While in that position, she graduated from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore with a B.S. in Agriculture in 2002 and in 2006 earned a Masters of Education degree in Agriculture and Extension Education.

The Edward H. Ralph DPI Medal of Achievement was presented to Jeff Smith of near Ocean City, Maryland, the Immediate Past Chairman of the DPI Environmental Committee. Mr. Smith, Director of Environmental Services for Perdue Incorporated and previously with Mountaire Farms, led DPI's efforts during the last dozen years on the many environmental issues facing the chicken industry. He was recognized for his leadership in the many environmental issues and challenges that faced the chicken industry in recent years.

DPI noted that whether providing advice to the DPI Executive Director and board of directors, leading committee meetings, representing Delmarva's chicken industry at local and national meetings, interpreting proposed laws and regulations, and much more, Mr. Smith went the extra mile to work for the entire Delmarva chicken industry and not just his employer. Among the issues faced during his tenure as chairman were the development of the state CAFO permits for chicken farms, legislative attacks on the chicken industry, dealing with the EPA Chesapeake Bay total maximum daily load program and the resulting state watershed implementation plans, examining possible alternative-use facilities for chicken manure, working to understand new federal and state policies on environmental matters, and trying to form partnerships with some groups in the environmental industry.

Mr. Smith is a native of Maryland's Western Shore who moved to the Eastern Shore in 1999 to begin work with Mountaire Farms. He joined Perdue in 2007. A graduate of Towson State University and the Johns Hopkins University Kreiger School of Arts & Sciences, he became DPI Environmental Committee chairman in 2003. and served as chairman until the end of 2014.

The DPI Medal of Achievement for an elected official went to Maryland State Senator Jim Mathias. Senator Mathias was recognized for his tremendous support for the chicken industry and the farming community.

Mr. Mathias was born and raised in Baltimore and settled in Ocean City, Maryland to help his father run a business. He was elected to the Ocean City town council and then served as mayor. First appointed to the House of Delegates and then elected, he served from 2006 until 2011 when he took office as a state senator.

Examples of his efforts on behalf of the chicken industry include work to help growers deal with chicken houses damaged by the blizzard a few years ago; seeking meetings with the governor to share chicken industry concerns; helping slow down or stop the proposed phosphorus management tool regulations under the previous governor, including adding money to the budget to help fund a partial economic impact study; working to make sure Governor Hogan's proposal was reasonable and practical; supporting a larger tax exemption for farm estates; supporting the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation; helping the Hudson family when it was attacked by the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Assateague Coastal Trust; checking with the chicken industry on legislation that could impact DPI members; and much more.  DPI noted that without his involvement in the phosphorus management tool issue starting two years ago, a bad regulation would have been in place instead of the new proposal that is much more farmer friendly. His close relationship with the president of the Maryland Senate has allowed the chicken industry's interests to be heard in leadership meetings where otherwise they might not be heard. He consults with DPI to understand chicken industry issues and concerns and he is a regular at many agricultural meetings.

Additionally, DPI recognized 12 outstanding poultry producers. Selected by their companies from Delmarva's more than 1,600 poultry growers, this year's recipients are:

Bruce and Erin Bartz, Tuckahoe Farm, Denton, Maryland - Amick Farms

Connie Carmean, Laurel, Delaware - Mountaire Farms

Mohammad Iqbal, Cottonwood Ranch, Bloxom, Virginia - Perdue Foods

Carol Johnson, Loockerman Farm, Bridgeville, Delaware - Allen Harim

James and Christina Kurtz, Christina Kurtz Farm, Snow Hill, Maryland - Tyson Foods

Robert and Lise Masten, Mispillion Farm, Milford, Delaware - Allen Harim

The Murphy Family, Bellview Farm, Rhodesdale, Maryland - Mountaire Farms

Deosarran and Rohinee Singh, Hi-Way Farm, Laurel, Delaware- Mountaire Farms

Roland and Janice Todd, Roland Roasters Farm, Federalsburg, Maryland - Perdue Foods

Ronald and Ellen Vanculin, White Stone Farm, Galena, Maryland - Perdue Foods

Billy and Vivian West, West Acres, Tyaskin, Maryland - Mountaire Farms

Scot and Tammy Wharton, S & T Farm, Millsboro, Delaware - Perdue Foods

Close to 700 people attended the DPI banquet; an annual celebration of the Delmarva Peninsula's chicken industry

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