The Martin family that owns J & J Martin Farm Produce in Wayne County, North Carolina, will be the first producers to participate in Smithfield Foods' new contract grower program for Black and minority farmers.

"Our position as a leading food company and hog producer in America is accompanied by tremendous responsibility to our many stakeholders, including our people and communities,'" said Smithfield President and CEO Shane Smith. 

"We recognize our responsibility to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry through purposeful actions to pave the way toward a stronger, more inclusive agricultural future for our communities.”

The program is part of a $15 million “Unity & Action commitment” the company has made. According to a press release, the program will initially focus on North Carolina, but will expand to other areas where the company’s farms are located.

The company expects at least three more minority farmers to be added to the program. 

"As the events of 2020 initiated important conversations about race, justice and inclusion in America, we began to reflect on the fact that many of our farms were minority-managed, but not minority-owned," said Steve Evans, director of community development for Smithfield.

"This sparked a larger conversation for Smithfield about what we could do as a leader in our industry to increase access to agriculture for Black and other minority farmers and help break through systemic barriers that are impeding their inclusion."

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