Horse racing began as early as the 12th century, being one of the oldest sports still practiced today. The horse was the third animal to be domesticated by humans (following the dog and cat) and were used especially in times of war for their agility and speed, therefore, a contest of speed was an inevitable progression. In 1750, American horse breeders and racers established the Jockey Club. The two types of horses used in horse racing are thoroughbreds and American standardbred horses. All American standardbred horses can trace back their lineage to the horse named Messenger and his son, Hamiltonian, known as the father of the American Standardbred breed. Today, horse racing is not as popular as it was 30 years ago causing the cost of horses to go up. For the first time in history, a standardbred horse was sold for a million dollars, very unusual for a standardbred but usual for a thoroughbred.
Delaware’s Green Industry produces more than $21 million in sales and of those sales, over 62% come from containerized nursery products. Some examples of nursery products are evergreen trees, shade and flower trees, shrubs, and fruit and nut plants. Nursery crops are one of two types of crop groups, the other being floriculture crops. The green industry is responsible for maintaining agriculture in schools, city parks and recreation, golf courses, greenhouses, and irrigation. Jobs in the green industry include lawn and garden retailers, landscapers, land managers, and suppliers of equipment. DelDOT, Delaware Department of Transportation, is responsible for Delaware’s roadways, traffic, accident responses, and transportation services. They also are the largest landholder in the state of Delaware.
On November 2, 2019, our class had its last field trip and to none other than the University’s own research farm. Out of all the field trips, this one was the most informative to me. There is a lot that goes into maintaining a research farm that many people do not understand. Scott Hopkins, the superintendent of the research farm, explained to our class that there are various tasks and responsibilities that are required in maintaining the farm but even so, he loves it. What he loves most, is when he shows people with very little or no knowledge of farming what goes on and seeing the look they have in their eyes; full of awe and amazement. Some of the people, however, that don’t come with some background knowledge can also be a problem. “Always ask before doing anything on another person’s farm!” Scott Hopkins advised. Many times people have done things like touch an animal or pick crops that put either the animal or the human at risk. He explained that some people will just pick some corn and it was part of a research experiment so not only did they mess up the data, but may have also endangered themselves. Even so, Scott Hopkins also enjoys all of the data analysis and research because “I’m kind of science-brained so it’s all pretty exciting to me.” The most exciting research project to him was artificially inseminating a group of queen bees with a single drone. Due to advancements in technology, he is able to experience these great milestones in science and agriculture.
Hoober Equipment began its business in 1941 in Intercourse, Pennsylvania. Currently, they are a third generation family business with locations in throughout Delmarva, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Hoober carries agriculture equipment from many companies, especially Case IH, Kubota, and JCB. The responsibilities that the Hoober team have are quite extensive and are not taken lightly for each employee knows that the quality of their repairs and products impact their reputation heavily. They definitely uphold their core values of integrity, teamwork and service.
Their advanced precision agriculture technology is impressive to say the least. When we were informed of the 250 thousand to well over 400 thousand dollar price of the machinery, it wasn’t easy to understand how and why people were willing to pay so much for these vehicles. Initially, I believed the size of the vehicles had to be part of the high price but, when I was explained how much these vehicles do, it was much clearer as to the importance and contribution each vehicle makes to aid in the agriculture industry. As we were going through the facility, we encountered the many different workers and observed how each did their part. Just like the equipment they provide, they work together like a finely tuned machine.
Celebrating 100 years of family farming
Even though there are thousands of farms in Delaware, many cannot say they’ve been in business for over 100 years. In fact, only four in the state of Delaware can. One of them being Fifer Orchards, who is celebrating their 100th year in business this year. “Having a family farm for 100 years may not sound like a big deal but it is for people like us”, Bobby Fifer states. Having over 3,000 acres of farmland is a lot to maintain but as Bobby Fifer explained, “Each of us have a job that no one else wants to do.” Because they each do their part, everything gets taken care of without having to burden another with a different job. It’s a convenient system that works for the family and the farm. Fifer Orchards is known all throughout Delaware and has been for many years, myself included. As an Army brat, I have moved around the United States and other countries as well and have fond memories of every place I’ve lived. I lived in Delaware when I was 4 years old and remember going to Fifer Orchards in the fall to pick pumpkins to carve with my aunt and uncle. Going back after 17 years is an amazing feeling. I can only imagine how the Fifer family feels knowing that many families make it a tradition to go back every year.
Ed Kee, former Delaware Secretary of Agriculture, visited class to discuss how the agriculture industry today is like a “Food Shed”. Ed Kee went through Delaware’s history and impact on the United States’ in terms of agriculture. Kee went into crop yields, trends, and challenges faced in the past 150 years and how, due to the advances in technology, people surpassed them. As of now, a big issue in the agriculture industry is in regards to the future. With the world’s population expected to reach 9.3 billion people by the year 2050, a major concern has been about how to the agriculture industry will be able to provide food for that many. It is estimated that approximately $209 billion a year will have to be invested in order to feed the approaching population growth.
After the amazing and very informative field trip to Georgie Cartanza’s organic poultry farm, our class was able to further understand the past and present aspects of the chicken industry the following Monday. Miss Georgie gave us a historical timeline of the chicken industry and explained Delmarva’s immense contribution to the nationwide industry. She also went in depth on the economic impact that the poultry industry has on Delmarva’s society. For every 1 job in the poultry industry, 7 are made in the community. Advances in technology have exponentially increased efficiency and productivity over the years and have proven to be a great success for those in the industry. Of course, with success comes people that question the source of it. Miss Georgie explained the difficulties many people in the poultry business face and how that affects their jobs. There are people that make up stories of animal abuse and neglect out of ignorance that directly impact those in the food industry. Miss Georgie explained and proved how all of those claims were untrue and biased.
Poultry farming has been a very controversial topic in the news lately. There has been a lot of talk about hormones in chickens, family farms being factory farms, chickens being housed in cramped spaces and unhealthy living environments, etc. Not only was all of this proven not to be true by organic chicken farmer, Georgie Cartanza, but just because those things are being said, being in the poultry business can be more difficult. Chickens were believed to have been given hormones in order to grow to the size that they are today in comparison to those 50 years ago. The reality is, because of better feed and selective breeding, chickens have just gradually become larger. Georgie Cartanza gave examples of why someone might think her chicken farm was a factory farm and the truth of the matter is, because of advancements in technology, farmers are able to take care of more birds and more efficiently. Many times pictures are taken on a farm but are focused on an area that can be construed badly. The reason chickens look so cramped is because they flock closely together. Any animal will group together whether it’s for warmth, the sense of security, or safety. The chickens had more than enough room to roam, they just chose to be close to others. Even with all of the stigma going around about chicken farming, Georgie Cartanza still takes care of her business with a positive attitude. The advice she gave to all of us in pursuing any career was to always be positive.