UTAH – A new campaign, launched by the Utah Farm Bureau, looks to sustain Utah farmers and ranchers while providing food and donations for food-insecure households throughout the state amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our farm was established by my great grandfather in 1896,” said Allen Bennett, the owner of Bennett Farms.
At Bennett Farms, lush produce fields span across 650 acres of land.
“We raise produce, red and yellow onions, various varieties of potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, watermelons, peppers, squash and we enjoy what we do,” Bennett said.
They handle a lot – but potatoes are on Thursday’s agenda.
Crews put them into a machine, slices come out, they’re bagged and ready to go.
This has always been part of their produce process. But lately, things have changed.
“2020 was supposed to be our year,” said Ron Gibson, president of the Utah Farm Bureau. “Farmers and ranchers across our state and across our country are in a tough spot.”
In the wake of COVID-19, agricultural markets took a dive, dropping 30 to 50-percent in the beehive state -- as demand from restaurants took a plunge, many farmers had to toss out supply.
“We work every day of the year to grow that product and the thought of throwing them away and people not using it makes us really sick and sad inside,” Gibson said.
“The demand for them stopped and some of those products had to be discarded and dumped and that really hurts when you have to do that,” Bennett added.
At the same time, food insecurity grew.
“Here we are at one of the darkest moments in our state’s history,” said Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox. “We’re at this incredible paradox where we still have the same number of people eating the same number of meals every day, and yet the people producing that food are losing money and we have people that are going hungry because they have food insecurity.”
Two big problems for the beehive state – and now, there is one solution, that’s even bigger.
“I sat in my truck thinking, ‘Is this for real? Is there really somebody out there that wants to help farmers and ranchers?’” Gibson said as he took a moment.
‘Farmers Feeding Utah,’ a new campaign introduced by the Utah Farm Bureau and other state partners, to help support farmers while ensuring produce doesn’t go to waste.
“Every dollar that’s donated will go to a farmer or rancher in this state to buy their product to go to a family that’s in need,” Gibson explained. “Farmers and ranchers throughout the state are carrying a heavy emotional burden and this is an opportunity for us to step up as a society and say agriculture is important to me.”
A five dollar donation can provide one Utah-sourced meal for a family in need. All the while giving family farms, like the Bennett’s, a chance to keep growing.
“We lead the nation in charitable giving every year, this is the place where we’re going to help those who stand in need and we’re going to do it together,” Cox said. “We should never take life-sustaining food for granted and we’ve done that for far too long.”
If you are interested in donating to the program, click HERE.