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Skaggs: Eat more chicken during national month in September
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Anyone who has lived in the Gainesville-Hall County area for any length of time recognizes the importance of the poultry industry to our community. In fact, poultry is the No. 1 agricultural commodity in the state of Georgia, representing some 47 percent of the total farm gate income in 2008.

When you break it down by the numbers, the value of poultry products truly is impressive. In 2008, poultry farm gate value was more than $5.6 billion with broilers at $4.9 billion, eggs at $592 million and pullets at $165 million.

And Georgia led all states in broiler production with over 8.8 billion pounds produced. Here in Hall, poultry and egg farm gate value totaled over $233 million, making us the sixth-ranked county in the state in poultry production.

Not only are the production numbers impressive, but the impact that the poultry industry has on Gainesville, Hall County and all of Northeast Georgia in terms of jobs, related businesses and overall economic impact is equally impressive.

Nationwide, Americans continue to enjoy chicken as a major part of a healthy diet. America’s taste for chicken continues to grow and diversify, according to survey data released by the National Chicken Council in July 2005.

American consumers eat chicken an average of five times in a two-week period, according to the nationwide survey conducted by PKS Research Partners of Edison, NJ, an increase from the four times reported in 2001.

Annual chicken consumption reached a high of 84.7 pounds per capita in 2005 as compared to 61.5 pounds in 1990 and 40.3 pounds in 1970. Chicken consumption continues to outpace the other major meat commodities, beef and pork. In 2005, beef consumption was 65 pounds per capita and pork consumption was 50 pounds per capita in 2005.

When you consider the economic contributions made by the poultry industry and America’s love of chicken, it is only fitting that we all join in the celebration of September as National Chicken Month.

For the last 20 years, chicken producers and grocery retailers have come together to offer additional promotions, partner with brands that are a great complement to chicken and showcase delicious recipes.

National Chicken Month is sponsored by the National Chicken Council in Washington and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association in Tucker. For more information on National Chicken Month, including recipes and cooking tips, visit www.eatchicken.com.

Billy Skaggs is a Hall County extension agent. He can be reached at 770-531-6988. His column appears biweekly and at gainesvilletimes.com.

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