WASHINGTON – The newly formed House Chicken Caucus held its inaugural luncheon Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol.

WASHINGTON – The newly formed House Chicken Caucus held its inaugural luncheon Wednesday in the U.S. Capitol.

While they munched on chicken wraps and sandwiches provided by McDonald’s, the bipartisan group of lawmakers considered a larger menu of issues facing the chicken industry in their states.

“Ethanol is number one,” said Edward Fryar, chief executive officer of Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers, Ark.

Federal efforts to boost corn-based ethanol production have driven up the price of corn used in chicken feed, he said. As a result, chicken prices have risen for families struggling in a weak economy.

Fryar was glad to see that Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, had joined with Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop to launch the House Chicken Caucus. It has 28 members.

“It should bring more attention to the issues that chicken farmers face,” said Fryar, who was here with other members of the National Chicken Council.

Crawford, who has also started a Rice Caucus, said that his goal is to raise awareness about the issues facing the chicken industry with their colleagues.

“We want to protect the industry and grow it. That’s our goal,” he said.

At the luncheon, several dozen leaders in the chicken industry mingled with lawmakers and staff.

Rep. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, munched on his sandwich next to Alan Duncan of Mountaire Corp. in Little Rock. Duncan is serving a one-year term on the National Chicken Council’s executive committee.

“There’s a caucus for everything in Congress. So, it is past time for a chicken caucus,” Ross said. “It’s important we highlight the industry and the jobs they create.”

Reps. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Steve Womack, R-Rogers, have also joined the caucus.