Smithfield Food is on a mission to support Black and minority farmers!

The company just welcomed its first family farmers to join its new contract grower program created to support Black and minority farmers as it works to diversify its hog supply chain, per news shared in a press release.

Smithfield is leading the charge through a new documentary from the lens of the Martin family, contract hog farmers for the Wayne County, North Carolina-based company. The project will address long withstanding barriers like access to capital and cost of capital for Black and minority farmers and is a part of the $15 million Unity & Action commitment made by Smithfield to level the playing field in food manufacturing, agriculture and education.

“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 Shane Smith, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods in an official news release. “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 Martins lineage includes Harry Martin, the North Carolina man who escaped enslavement and enlisted into the Union Army during the Civil War. He served as a member of the 135th United States Colored Troops (USCT) before he returned to Wayne County to purchase land in 1883 that he later left to his children.

Since 1886, his descendant, Larry Martin, has led farm operations for Martin Farms. After a weather event in 2011 destroyed the family’s hog barn, they lost their ability to raise hogs.

Per the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), minority farmers make up only five percent of farmers in America with less than two percent identifying as Black.

“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 Foods. “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.”

Click here to learn more about Smithfield’s new contract grower initiative.