Sanderson Farms Family Farmers Win National Environmental Excellence Award
Sanderson Farms family farmers, Donald and Danielle Urbanovsky, have been recognized by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Awards at the International Production & Processing Expo. The awards are given annually to recognize exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production.
“It is a privilege to recognize these family farms for the excellent job they do in being good stewards of their land,” said Greg Hinton, outgoing chairman for the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association and vice president of sales for Rose Acre Farms. “Our industry could not continue to function and thrive without taking proper care of our natural resources, and these family farms should be commended for those efforts.”
Award applicants were rated in several categories including litter management, nutrient management, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques and participation in education or outreach programs. While selecting national winners and finalists for the competition, applications were reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and poultry associations. Award winners were selected from five geographic regions throughout the U.S. and include family farms nominated by the Iowa Poultry Association, Kentucky Poultry Federation, Cargill, Butterball and Sanderson Farms.
Of the five award winners, the Urbanovsky family was selected as the winner of the Southwest region. Growing breeder chickens for the company’s Bryan, Texas production division, Urbanovsky Farms has over six years of experience in poultry farming and takes very seriously their responsibility to environmental sustainability.
“As a grower, it is our responsibility to provide safe and healthy poultry for consumers,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “We also must be aware of global food safety and economic sustainability by operating with transparency, educating others and providing environmental benefits.”
Winners representing other poultry producers and associations from the remaining four geographic regions in the U.S. include the Mid-Atlantic region winner, the Wolfepack Farm of Harrisonburg, Virginia; the South Central region winner, the Dalen Bell Farm of Tuscumbia, Missouri; the Southeast region winner, the Infinity Ranch of Lamar, Arkansas; and the State Poultry Association winner, the Green Ridge Family Farm of Weldon, Iowa.
Founded in 1947, the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association is based in Tucker, Georgia and progressively serves its poultry and egg members through research, education, communications and technical services. The association recognizes members of its industry through several annual competitions including the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Awards, Clean Water Awards and Feed Facility of the Year Awards.
“I am extremely proud of the hard work the Urbanovsky Farm has dedicated to perfecting their craft, growing healthy birds and protecting the environment around them,” said Mike Tamimi, director of production for Sanderson Farms. “Achieving excellence in poultry farming is no easy feat, and this family farmer has achieved excellence on a national scale alongside only a few peers from other poultry producers and associations.”
After only six years of raising chickens for Sanderson Farms, it is evident that the Urbanovskys were quick learners and wasted no time in achieving national acclaim for their farming operation and its associated sustainability measures. “It’s a great honor to win this award,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “It is a wonderful feeling knowing that our farm is conducting business above and beyond what others are doing, and that the farm’s success is being recognized within the poultry industry.”
Prior to growing chickens for Sanderson Farms, Donald Urbanovsky worked in safety in the oil field while his wife, Danielle, worked in the insurance industry. The Urbanovskys have been married for nearly eight years and have two twin daughters and one son, all under the age of five.
After being laid off from the oil field several years ago, Donald Urbanovsky was in search of a new career and, much to his surprise, he found it by purchasing a four-house, 32-acre poultry farm in his hometown of Caldwell, Texas in 2016. Although they had not owned or operated a poultry farm previously, the Urbanovskys were no strangers to farming. Danielle Urbanovsky’s Uncle and Cousin both grew chickens for Sanderson Farms before retiring and were influential in the Urbanovskys’ decision to purchase their breeder farm.
“Owning our own business has always been a dream for our family,” said Danielle Urbanovsky. “For the last six years, we’ve been able to take an older farm and turn it into a fully-functioning, successful business. We owe that business ownership credit to Sanderson Farms for giving us a chance.”
By purchasing an older farm, the Urbanovskys had to make several improvements to ensure the houses operated efficiently by conserving utilities and utilizing the latest technology the industry had to offer. From new water lines and cool cells to additional insulation and new curtains on the houses, the Urbanovskys spared no expense to ensure their farm was environmentally efficient through water conservation, as well as proper house ventilation and insulation for climate control purposes and bird comfort.
“When we purchased the farm, it was vital that I own and maintain the correct equipment for a successful business,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “The advancements over the last years have been astounding. It’s great to see that farming in today’s world can still be a full-time, successful business because of the industry advancements.”
For the Urbanovsky family, farming is a way for them to help feed the world and ensure the animals entrusted to their care are well cared for each day. “It’s a great feeling knowing that I’m growing something that allows other people to survive,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “Food is a necessity just like water and air. I wish consumers knew the hard work put into farms across the country to produce a high-quality product for consumption.”
With misconceptions abounding about the industry, the Urbanovskys are passionate about educating consumers about animal welfare practices and modern farming techniques. “The last thing I want to see is an animal suffer,” said Danielle Urbanovsky. “The healthier the birds, the more successful the flock, the better we do as farmers. We inspect our flock daily and take important notes over the condition of the flock and any needs they may have.”
In stark contrast to what is often portrayed in the media, family farmers like the Urbanovskys work hard each and every day to raise healthy birds, minimize their farm’s impact on the environment, and be upstanding members of their local communities. “The media and advocates can take one bad farm and attempt to turn it into an industry-wide standard,” said Donald Urbanovsky. “That isn’t the case. A farmer’s goal is to produce a high-quality product. As a Sanderson Farms chicken consumer, you can rest assured your meat is coming from a farm that takes extreme pride in quality.”