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Thanks to a partnership between the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and Pilgrim’s Pride, a north Florida poultry processor, shoppers at Sam’s Clubs throughout the Sunshine State can select chickens bearing the “Fresh from Florida” designation.
“The logo will help Floridians easily identify a safe, wholesome, fresh Florida product,” explained Florida agriculture commissioner Charles H. Bronson. “When shoppers see the logo, they’ll know they’ve found a product they can trust."
Fresh from Florida chicken is raised antibiotic-free on an all-vegetable diet and processed in a state-of-the-art facility in Live Oak featuring advanced air-chilling technology to ensure quality and freshness. Poultry producers and processors in the state must comply with strict food-safety regulations, as well as stringent environmental standards through such bodies as the Suwannee River Partnership, a coalition of state, federal and regional agencies; local governments; and private industry representatives working in tandem to reduce nitrate levels in the waters of the Suwannee River Basin. Since 1999, when the partnership began, 99 percent of poultry farmers in the Suwannee watershed have agreed to use “best management practices” to significantly lower the amount of animal waste and other pollutants entering water resources.
An additional advantage of choosing to eat food grown or produced closer to home is that it supports the local economy. Over 80 percent of Florida’s chicken production takes place in rural north Florida. In Suwannee, Lafayette, and Madison counties, the poultry industry has an overall economic impact of $347 million annually, supports almost 100 farms and has created 3,700 jobs.
“Choosing Fresh from Florida chicken helps ensure those jobs will be here to stay,” said Bronson.
Fresh from Florida chicken is currently being featured in Sam’s Club’s in-store video promotions. Other retailers are expected to join the program in the upcoming months.