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NRCS Program Makes a Big Difference for South Carolina Big Bird Farmer

Aram AmKurd started his 64-acre poultry farm in Anderson County in 2012, following his studies at a university in Virginia. And although he had a lot of help from his father, the previous farm owner, neighbors in the Anderson community, and U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), it was a bit different from what he learned his college studies.

“What I did in the capstone,” AmKurd explained, “was paper and writing, but when I got into it physically is when I saw the real poultry farming.” 

He specializes in “big birds” which are according to AmKurd, on average 9 ½ to 10 pounds. 

An integrated company delivers the baby chicks to the AmKurd farm where he provides the feeding and care for nine weeks. Once the time and size of the birds is reached, then the company returns to pick them up.

AmKurd said, “The money generated with the chicken business is not enough to do all the things needed to keep the farm going.” He said there are concerns with labor, supply shortages, and not having enough time. You make money, but then bills keep increasing. He said you must manage it all as a poultry farmer. 

“Without the government help,” AmKurd explained, “management will be a lot harder for chicken farmers. But it’s a cost-share plan. It’s not a grant.”

NRCS aids AmKurd with his farming efforts through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). EQIP provides technical and financial assistance to agricultural producers and forest landowners to address natural resource concerns.

AmKurd reaps benefits from energy efficiency practices in the EQIP. Specifically, he teamed up with NRCS to upgrade 110 fans and more than 40 heaters by establishing a comprehensive management plan which was paramount in decreasing the financial burden and helped with production for his poultry farm. 

Additionally under the EQIP, his farm is outfitted with stacking sheds and waste sheds which AmKurd said his farm did not have initially. 

“I think everything we’ve done has been a plus to their operation,” said Robby Holcombe, NRCS Soil Conservationist, who has worked with the AmKurd family since they came to Anderson County more than a decade ago.

Even with the challenges and costs of farm production, AmKurd encourages others to consider farming. 

“I would tell anybody who is interested in being a farmer to go ahead and do it!” he exclaimed.   

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