|By DAVE BLOWER JR.
Farm World Editor
ELWOOD, Ind. — Joining virtually every other section of the U.S. economy, farm-related businesses are stepping up to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
Indiana-based tomato processor Red Gold pooled its resources with its employees, growers and suppliers to ship 10 semi-truckloads of canned tomato products from the company’s distribution center in Alexandria, Ind.
The first load was bound for a hurricane relief staging center in Jackson, Miss. The center will repack the Red Gold products, including tomato juice, diced tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and salsa, into meal kits and deliver the kits to displaced hurricane refugees. Other loads have gone to Houston, Texas; Shreveport, La. and Mobile, Ala.
Red Gold officials said more than its growers have donated 650 tons of tomatoes. Red Gold employees processed the tomatoes into various products. The growers involved their whole crews as they picked and transported the donated tons to each of Red Gold’s three processing facilities. In addition, truck drivers delivering tomatoes also donated money to help pay for fuel for the delivery trucks. Red Gold semi drivers are donating time to transport the food to Gulf Coast relief centers.
Special employee cash donation centers have been set up at each of five Red Gold locations in central Indiana. As of last week, Red Gold employees donated nearly $10,000 in cash through the American Red Cross.
Red Gold suppliers have donated food ingredients, spices, fuel and packaging containers. The Red Gold Co. said it has achieved its total goal of $140,000.
“The response has been tremendous,” said Red Gold President and CEO Brian Reichart. “We plan to send at least 10 semi-truckloads of Red Gold tomato products - that’s nearly a half million pounds of food products - over the next week or so. Our collection of cash donations will continue through the middle of September.”
Smithfield Foods, Inc. and its subsidiary companies are donating truckloads of lunch meat, ice and water to help relief efforts.
Smithfield said its Farmland Foods, John Morrell and Smithfield Packing Co. subsidiaries have started shipping more than 143,000 pounds of ready-to-eat lunch meat to America’s Second Harvest food banks in the Baton Rouge, La. area.
The donated meat, along with 80,000 pounds of ice, and 32,000, 16-ounce bottles of water, are being transported in six Smithfield Foods trucks. At three ounces per serving, the lunch meat will provide approximately 763,000 sandwiches.
America’s Second Harvest is the largest hunger-relief charity in the United States. The not-for-profit organization will distribute the donated Smithfield items at readily accessible points located along the path of the hurricane.
Farmland Foods is shipping 38,000 pounds of sliced ham from its Crete, Neb., and Wichita, Kan., processing plants, and more than 32,000 16-ounce bottles of water and about 40,000 pounds of ice from its Kansas City, Mo., facility. John Morrell is shipping 40,000 pounds of lunch meat from its Sioux Falls, S.D., processing plant and 40,000 pounds of ice from its Cumberland Gap Provision Co. facility in Middlesboro, Ky.
In addition, Smithfield Packing Company, in Smithfield, Va., has committed two trailer loads - 65,000 pounds - of lunch meat.
Smithfield Foods also is establishing an assistance program that will collect monetary donations from employees to help victims of Hurricane Katrina.
DuPont announced it will donate $1 million in cash to agencies supporting the relief and recovery efforts in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama.
The company will focus its aid on particularly hard-hit communities, such as those surrounding the DuPont DeLisle and Pascagoula sites, both in Mississippi.
DuPont also is prepared to provide product donations used in disaster relief, recovery and rebuilding, such as DuPont Personal Protection products containing Kevlar®, Nomex® and Tyvek® high performance materials; Virkon® S disinfectant; RelyOn(TM) disinfectant wipes; and Solae(R) energy bars and soy beverages.
“Our thoughts are with our employees, their families and neighbors who are living through a devastating situation on the Gulf Coast,” said DuPont Chairman and CEO Charles O. Holliday, Jr. “We hope that these donations in some small way can lighten their burden and accelerate the recovery process.”
The Monsanto Company has pledged $1 million to support the relief efforts focused on helping people with their needs as they begin to restore and rebuild their homes and communities.
A donation of $750,000 to the American Red Cross will help provide food and relief aid to people whose homes were lost or damaged in the storm.
In addition, a donation of $250,000 will be made to United Way chapters in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish and St. Charles Parish, where the company has a major manufacturing facility.
Monsanto wants to support the communities where Monsanto people live and work.
“It is our hope that these funds will help provide the basic necessities to our friends and neighbors as our communities begin to recover from the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina,” said Roy Breaud, plant manager of Monsanto’s Luling, Louisiana, plant. “We recognize that it will take many weeks and months to restore the communities, so we want a portion of our gift to be focused on some of those longer-term needs.”
Published in the September 14, 2005 issue of Farm World.