The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association (also known as U.S. Poultry) has a long history of supporting its membership, and the poultry industry at large, by offering continuing education, funding research, and sponsoring multiple programs/events - from trade shows to college recruiting fairs.
In the 1940’s, the poultry industry, still in its infancy, sought solutions to many challenges. Some of the issues of the day were maintaining poultry health, identifying the best options for shipping and watering live chickens, breeding concerns, effective production/processing techniques, and government relations. In March 1947, a gathering of poultry and egg dealers from 13 states became the Southeastern Poultry & Egg Association. Shortly thereafter, the association began to plan its first “poultry convention”. By 1951, the first trade show was hosted, attracting 67 exhibitors and 2000 attendees.
Today, the Southeastern Poultry & Egg Association is known as the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, and sixteen committees, chaired by leaders of top corporations such as Sanderson Farms and Cargill, have assembled to address such issues as poultry health and welfare, and the environment. The annual trade show is now dubbed the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE), and each year, more than 1300 exhibitors and approximately 32,000 attendees can be found there.
Continuing education is a primary focus for U.S. Poultry, to help industry leaders stay abreast of “rapid changes and advancements”. An expansive list of online courses, as well as DVD’s and CD’s, appears on the website. The Association also offers a praise-worthy selection of seminars, workshops and clinics, with new options every year. This year’s schedule includes topics such as financial management, hatchery breeding and poultry/protein/fat rendering, among others. Not only does the Association offer an abundance of educational opportunities, but it also provides a wealth of information via several monthly and bi-monthly newsletters.
The U.S. Poultry Harold E. Ford Foundation was created in 1994 with the purpose of funding university poultry programs and student outreach. Through the “College Student Career Program”, the Foundation makes it possible for HR managers and recruiters to interview, and ultimately employ, college seniors and graduate students seeking careers in the poultry industry. U.S. Poultry has sponsored the recruiting program for more than 50 years. For the last three years, however, the Foundation has been a joint sponsor along with the Poultry Science Association Foundation, of the “Ph. D. and Vet Student Career Fair”, held during IPPE.
Funding research has also become an important mission of the Foundation. Over the years, U.S. Poultry has contributed in excess of $32M to fund research projects for the betterment of the poultry industry. On an annual basis, $1M is earmarked for such projects. In 2018 over $600K (46%) of Foundation spend went to research. To determine which projects receive funding, a 15-member panel evaluates all proposals and makes recommendations to the Association Board of Directors. The Board grants funding to approximately 16 of the 100 proposals considered each year.
The U.S. Poultry & Egg Association has experienced substantial growth over the last 70 plus years, with programs and trade show participation increasing significantly. Since its inception in 1947, the Association has had a long history of service and effectiveness, and has been an invaluable resource. From supporting universities and research projects, to educating members and identifying solutions, the Poultry Association continues to have an undeniable impact on the poultry industry.