The Civitas Lancaster annual chicken barbecue at Long’s Park has been canceled, with organizers citing increased costs, decreased demand and a lack of volunteers.
Hailed as the world’s largest chicken barbecue, the spring event – which began in 1953 – was suspended this year and for the foreseeable future, according to a post on the Civitas Lancaster website.
President Nicki Nafziger said in the post that “this was a very difficult decision for us to make because so many people have been a part of this for decades. But it no longer makes financial sense for us to expend the effort it takes to run this huge undertaking for the small return we are now generating.”
Increased food costs and the loss of key sponsors have significantly cut into the amount of net money raised at the barbecue, she explained. “We would like to thank everyone who ever donated to, volunteered for or sponsored our event. It holds the record for the largest one-day chicken barbecue and we’re very proud of that.”
Nafziger emphasized that Civitas Lancaster, which was Sertoma Lancaster before rebranding, is in financially sound shape, and will continue to support Long’s Park and other community nonprofits.
Italian, French restaurants open
There was also recent good news on the food front, too.
Luna Italian Cuisine restaurant opened March 6 in Mechanicsburg, at 100 Legacy Park Drive, Suite 2. According to its website, it “specializes in gourmet Italian foods curated by only the finest chefs in the area. We also feature a Euro-modern cocktail bar and host the area’s only after-hours Disco Pub.”
The menu (reservations are required) features an array of pasta, meat and fish dishes, pizza and antipasti.
Chef de Crepes has also relocated to from Mechanicsburg to a larger venue at 2017 Market St., Camp Hill.
The creperie run by the Cheverez family was inspired by their journeys to France. They opened in the summer of 2019 with a pop-up tent at vineyards. When COVID-19 hit, “we decided to get creative,” according to their website. The Cheverezes bought a food truck they dubbed Jean-Pierre and took it around central Pennsylvania, to increase mobility.
They then opened a creperie eatery – modeled after Laduree House in Paris – in December 2020, serving traditional and family-inspired crepes.
In just two years, the Cheverezes needed bigger quarters and have now moved from Mechanicsburg to Camp Hill.
Despite drawing sharp criticism from Cumberland County residents, plans for a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Upper Allen Township were unanimously approved Wednesday by a vote of township commissioners.
A reported standing-room-only crowd attended a meeting Wednesday to voice their concerns, but four hours of debate led to Upper Allen Township Commissioners voting to approve the proposed location of the popular fast-food restaurant at the Mills at Shepherdstown Crossing.
Situated at the intersection of Gettysburg Pike and South Market St., the 74-seat restaurant will feature three drive-thru lanes. Chick-fil-A is known for attracting long lines of customers, and residents believe the restaurant will bring to their area additional traffic, safety, and pollution issues.
Township officials pointed to positive traffic studies that have been taken, but residents state the studies date to when traffic was lessened due to the pandemic.
The Chick-fil-A in Upper Allen Township will be located approximately three miles from a Chick-fil-A in Lower Allen Township.
Opponents to the Upper Allen Township plan were hoping recent history would repeat itself. The Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A chain sought to put one of its restaurants on 32nd and Market Streets in Camp Hill several years ago. Opposition from residents, however, led to the proposed site being leased instead to Chase Bank.
Lancaster and Berks counties have nearly 3.9 million commercial birds to the recent Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak, according to Penn State Extension and the state Department of Agriculture.
While the federal government is stepping in to pay for the cleanup and disposition of infected flocks and will cover the cost of replacing them, there is no stipulation for covering the loss of egg production during the cleanup phase to farmers.
And while consumers are paying more than double for eggs at the store, grocers are seeing a major drop in profit margins while trying to keep prices as low as possible.
John Boney, Penn State Extension poultry specialist and assistant professor of poultry science, said 3,845,200 birds in Lancaster County and 44,100 birds in Berks County have been destroyed due to the outbreak to date.
“Lancaster County is our most poultry dense county in the state,” he said.
The infected farms will not see income during this time of disposal and cleanup.
“Some will probably not stay in business,” he said.
Boney explained that the active cleanup is still underway, so farmers are not dealing with the bottom line yet. That will happen closer to mid-July when, he said, hopefully reflocking can begin.
That’s because, while the outbreak is ongoing, those in the control zone are still being tested on a regular basis and new flocks can’t be brought in.
“All flocks must test negative so the virus can be eradicated,” he said.
“It’s too early to know what the costs of the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak Pennsylvania will be,” said Shannon Powers of the state Department of Agriculture. “The cost will be borne by the poultry businesses, state and federal government and to some extent, by consumers paying higher prices for eggs and poultry.”
As of May 9, nine commercial chicken and duck flocks in Pennsylvania have been affected with a loss of 3,889,300 birds, she said. Costs to farms and various agencies involved in the response will be determined in the coming months as contracts, personnel, supplies and other expenditures are finalized and indemnity funds for farms processed.
For local grocers like Scott Karns, president and CEO of Karns Foods, Mechanicsburg, profit margins are being held as low as possible to keep egg prices down.
“We’ve seen prices double and they continue to climb weekly,” he said.
While he can still get eggs, mostly from non-infected Biglerville, “once prices go up, they continue to go up,” he said.
Egg prices are just the start. Karns said he is expecting price increases in bakery items, frozen dinners; basically anything made with eggs.
“There has been a significant increase in the cost of chicken due to the cost of the feed,” he said. “We’ve been expecting that because of a lack of supply of wheat and corn used in the feed.”
On top of that, Karns said the government is asking for an increase in the production of ethanol fuel, which uses corn.
“It doesn’t look good for the next year,” he said.
Farmers and the veterinarians and others tied to the poultry industry are in an incredibly stressful time, in an atmosphere of uncertainty and little rest, compounded by fuel, fertilizer and other input costs that were already increasing due to global events happening prior to the HPAI outbreak, Powers agreed.
Karns is buying large eggs wholesale for $2.81 a dozen and selling them for $2.99.
“That’s not much of profit margin and when you add in the loss for cracked eggs, it’s not enough to pay the bill,.” he said
Jeff Hummer, president of Hummers Meats Inc., Mount Joy, echoed the problem.
“The availability hasn’t been affected, but the pricing has,” he said.
He too has been paying double the past few weeks and is seeing sales volumes decrease.
“People are hesitant to buy at these prices,” he said. “Chicken prices have gone up as well and people are holding off to see if they will come back down.”
Karns said coming off the Easter holiday when eggs are in demand makes this the worst time for an outbreak.
“Summer travel makes demand for eggs increase too. People go to buffets, so eggs are in demand,” he said. “We are going to see this for at least six months.”
Farms must have biosecurity plans and meet additional reporting requirements to receive compensation, Powers said.
USDA provides compensation for depopulation (euthanizing birds), as well as waste disposal and virus elimination, which must be completed before affected farms can begin to safely restock. However, “USDA cannot offer indemnity for income or production losses suffered due to downtime or other business disruptions,” she said.
“We were prepared for this poultry industry emergency. Since 2015-16, Governor Tom Wolf has ensured that $2 million has always been readily available for Pennsylvania to have a quick response to Avian Influenza. That funding, in addition to rapid response funding for agricultural emergencies established under the PA Farm Bill, means Pennsylvania has $3.5 million available for immediate response needs,” Powers said.
In addition, the Wolf Administration has provided $3 million to fund the Center for Poultry Excellence — which trains and equips the industry in biosecurity and safe, quality poultry and egg production — since establishing it in 2019 and proposed $1 million in funding for 2022-2023.
“The administration is in conversation with the General Assembly to assess whether additional funds will need to be appropriated to support the response,” she said.
Boney said teams from Penn State Extension serve on Avian Task Force to serve as experts in high alert situations.
He said it has been six days since the last outbreak in Berks County on May 3 and “that is good news.”
The disease comes from migratory birds, which are active right now.
“We know the virus is spread by people, tools, shared equipment and wild birds on the premises,“ Boney said.
Standing water and feed spills draw wild birds to farms, but the disease can also be carried in the air and moved by wind, he said. “There are a lot of opportunities for spread.”
The last outbreak in Pennsylvania was in 1983-84.
Protecting Pennsylvania’s $7.1 billion poultry industry is a year-round top priority.
“Our PA Animal Diagnostic Laboratory System is made up of the finest diagnostic laboratories in the world,” Powers said. “Together, the labs processed more than 200,000 samples last year. We are carefully monitoring the surge in testing demand and planning to meet ramped up need.”
There are 95 state Department of Agriculture, USDA and contracted experts working as first responders on affected farms to quickly and safely contain the outbreak, and at the department’s main building in Harrisburg. The number of direct responders is growing.
Farmers face unique stresses that isolate them in the best of times. With the outbreak, Pennsylvania now offers the AgriStress HelpLine available to Pennsylvania farmers, farm families and farm workers who need mental health support or a place to turn to talk about their stress.
The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 833-897-2474 to speak with a healthcare professional anonymously at any time.
Manheim-based eggs, milk and ice cream producer, Kreider Farms, recently released the newest product under its hemp-focused Chiques Creek brand—the hemp egg.
The egg, currently only available in limited supermarkets within Pennsylvania, are brown eggs from cage-free birds, fed a proprietary feed that consists of 20% hemp seed.
The feed, and the egg, are the first of their kind in the country and offer more nutrients than the traditional egg, according to Kreider Farms.
Kreider, through its Chiques Creek brand, has aimed at making a name for itself within the revitalized hemp industry, which found footing following the passage of the federal Farm Bill by former President Donald Trump in 2018. The bill allowed for the production of hemp and removed hemp and hemp seeds from the Drug Enforcement Administration schedule of Controlled Substances.
Kreider quickly joined the burgeoning hemp market with the creation of its single serve bottles of hemp tea and the Chiques Creek brand in 2019.
The Chiques Creek Hemp Tea has proven successful, with the company selling the produce in Acme, Safeway, Giant and Weis stores in multiple states. Expanding into eggs felt like a natural step for the farm, which operates four Pennsylvania egg production facilities, said Khalee Kreider, marketing and social media specialist at Kreider Farms.
“An egg seemed like an appropriate thing since we are an egg producer already,” said Kreider, adding that the tea was a much easier product to get out to market. “The hemp egg was a lot more time consuming. We had to work with our feed company to make a proprietary feed to get the elevated nutritional levels we were aiming for.”
The proprietary feed is made up of hemp sourced from a number of locations, including both within and outside of the country. In the future, the company would like to eventually have an exclusive Pennsylvania source, but the US doesn’t yet have the infrastructure needed for processing, said Kreider.
Kreider Farms can currently only sell the egg within Pennsylvania because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to rule on the use of hemp in animal feed.
Despite having to keep the sales of its hemp eggs within Pennsylvania, Kreider Farms has seen a lot of interest from retailers for the product. The company hopes to soon expand the product across state lines following its approval by the FDA.
“Our Lancaster farming heritage dates back to the 1700s when our colonial ancestors began growing hemp for food, clothing, rope, paper, and canvas for Conestoga Wagons,” said Ron Kreider, president and CEO of Kreider Farms. “Being able to build upon that history by creating the first hemp egg that comes from a farm where the cage-free hens are American Humane Certified and recognized for our sustainable and regenerative farming practices is an exciting accomplishment.”
Aug 9 (Reuters) – Tyson Foods Inc (TSN.N)cannot increase prices for chicken and prepared foods fast enough to keep pace with rising costs for raw materials like grain, Chief Executive Donnie King said on Monday, after the company reported higher-than-expected quarterly earnings.
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