It has been said not to judge a book by its cover. For Frank Robinson, it’s the name of his poultry operation that could easily be misjudged. Frank Robinson is the proud co-owner of ‘Dead Broke Farms’ along with his two adult sons, Wes and Greg. However, according to Mr. Robinson, it’s the financial incentives from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) that helps ensure his poultry operation’s name stays just a little family joke.
The Robinsons began their poultry operation in the fall of 2008. They constructed four chicken houses that currently hold 180,000 broilers or 134,000 roasters on their 89-acre farm.
“During site construction, I met NRCS District Conservationist Tommy Wiltbank who offered to help me develop a nutrient management plan and assist with related costs through one of their conservation programs,” said Mr. Robinson. And just like all other animal feeding operations in Delaware, poultry farms are required by the state to have a nutrient management plan.
Using the voluntary Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) offered by NRCS, they developed a plan to address his resource concerns and meet his poultry operation goals. “NRCS made the funds available for at least 75 percent of the cost of my manure storage building, eight concrete pads and a chicken composter,” said Mr. Robinson. “The pads outside of our chicken houses have made our lives so much easier because there’s hardly any manure tracking when shipping out, plus clean-up is so much easier.”
NRCS is also working with Delmarva Poultry Industry (DPI) to install vegetative buffers on the Robinsons’ operation. While NRCS provided the funding for 1600 feet of poultry windbreaks, DPI provided technical assistance through their Vegetative Environmental Buffers (VEB) program. Once planted, these trees will stabilize the land—helping to reduce soil erosion; screen out noise and dust, provide habitat for wildlife and improve the landscape.
EQIP provides technical and financial assistance to farmers to improve the soil, water, air, plants, animals, and related natural resources on their land. Beginning and limited resource producers are eligible to receive up to 90 percent cost-share assistance for conservation practices through EQIP.
Like the Robinsons, NRCS is available to help poultry producers like you nationwide utilize the financial and technical resources available to them. “We would have gotten the buildings and pads eventually, but with the help of NRCS, we were able to build them now. The buildings and pads are necessary and NRCS made it possible,” said Frank.
If you would like more information on NRCS, please visit your local USDA Service Center. In Kent County, call 302-741-2600 x3; in New Castle, call 302-832-3100 x3, and in Sussex County, call 302-856-3990 x3.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.