In recent months, Christensen Farms' and its contract producer-partners have taken the initiative to pay it forward to their communities through monetary donations to local food shelves in addition to donations of pork to family, friends and within the communities in which the company operates.
"Following unprecedented disruptions this spring due to COVID-19, the pork industry is seeing pork processing plants return towards intended levels of processing capacity while focusing on maintaining the safest possible environment for their employees," states Glenn Stolt, Christensen Farms president and CEO. "This is encouraging for the industry; however, the backlog of market-ready hogs remains as the industry continues to navigate the impacts of plant closures or significant reductions in processing capacity."
Despite current headwinds for the pork industry, the company's mission to produce safe, high-quality, nutritious protein for the food supply chain has become even more critical as Americans continue to face rising unemployment, limited access to protein and increased food costs.
"Due to supply chain disruptions, specifically at U.S. pork packing plants affected by COVID-19, we have been working hard to seek out alternative avenues to get as many of our market-ready pigs into the food supply," Stolt adds. "Supporting us tremendously in this noble feat was our contract producer-partners, in helping get over 3,000 hogs back into the food supply chain that otherwise would have been sacrificed. For this, I cannot thank these individuals enough for their commitment to our company's mission, values and continuous support during these trying times for the industry."
The company did not request payment for these hogs, but rather asked its contract partners to "pay it forward" in their local communities supporting food shelves, organizations and families in need. To date, over $50,000 has been donated across multiple rural communities in the Midwest.
In addition to the market-ready hogs provided to contract partners, Christensen Farms donated hogs to more than 60 employees, hogs that were processed at a local meat locker in southwest Minnesota. Additionally, the company coordinated and funded a mutually beneficial "take and bake" program involving 15 restaurants hit hard by COVID-19 providing meals to more than 600 of its committed team members across five Midwest states.
Pork producers are a critical part of food production at the local, state and national level in addition to exporting product around the world. While these times are unprecedented, Christensen Farms is continuing to do everything they can to keep the members of their teams safe and healthy while driving forward by working together to responsibly produce high-quality, safe pork for consumers during these uncertain times.
Christensen Farms is one of the largest, family-owned pork producers in the United States, marketing approximately 3 million hogs per year. Headquartered in Sleepy Eye, Minn., the company operates throughout the Midwest with facilities in Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois and South Dakota. Christensen Farms operates three feed mills, manages 148,000 sows on 44 farms, and oversees more than 350 nurseries and grow-finish sites. The company employs nearly 1,000 people and maintains 1,500 contract partnerships.
The company is vertically integrated with a strong presence across the pork value chain — from farm to fork. Christensen Farms is the largest shareholder of Triumph Foods LLC, a producer-owned primary pork processing plant in St. Joseph, Mo. In turn, Triumph Foods own 50% of Daily's Premium Meats, a specialty pork processor of bacon and other premium pork products. Triumph Foods also holds a 50% partnership in Seaboard Triumph Foods LLC of Sioux City, Iowa, a primary pork processing plant.