Company News: Award Nomination, Derecho Relief, Solar Panels and More

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Merck Animal Health Announces Call for Submissions for New High-Quality Pork—Precision Farming Award

Merck Animal Health has opened submissions for the High-Quality Pork—Precision Farming Award, a new award which will grant one project up to $200,000 towards implementation with an interested customer in the swine industry, according to a company release.

“The animal health industry, including swine, is moving towards integrating digital solutions into the day-to day management of animal health and care,” said Rika Jolie, DVM, Ph.D., MBA, global swine lead, Merck Animal Health, in the release. “As part of our commitment to swine health and The Science of Healthier Animals®, we are constantly extending the range of innovative solutions we can provide our customers. Merck Animal Health is proud to introduce the High-Quality Pork—Precision Farming Award, created to support our customers who share our interest in advancing pig farming and the health and well-being of animals through technological innovations.”

Projects will focus on precision farming in swine with a demonstrated proof of concept and business model, if available. Topics of interest include technology innovations focused on herd health management, genetics and reproduction, streamlining of day-to-day activities, traceability, and artificial intelligence, the release says. More detailed information on the topics of interests and how to apply can be found here. The deadline for applications is October 31, 2020.

Alltech supports farmers with donations to the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund

Alltech has established the Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund to match donations dollar for dollar and provide goods and services to farmers and their local communities who have been directly impacted by the derecho storm that hit Iowa on August 10, according to a company release.

“This unexpected derecho caused significant destruction in the communities that our customers and colleagues call home,” said Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech, in the release. “Many now face flattened fields and grain bins, significant repair of fencing and much more in the midst of an already difficult year. We hope our Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund provides a boost of support as Iowa’s farming community demonstrates its resilience in recovery.”

The funds raised will be donated to the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association, the Iowa Pork Producers Association and the Iowa Corn Growers Association, who will ensure that these resources are utilized to aid the rural communities most in need of assistance. The companies are also donating equipment, including tractors and skid steers, the release says.

Donations are being collected through the Pearse Lyons ACE Foundation, Alltech’s 501(c)(3) non-profit. Alltech will match donations up to $25,000, and all contributions will go directly toward helping Iowa farmers and the surrounding communities impacted by the derecho. For more information and to donate to the Alltech Iowa Derecho Devastation Relief Fund, visit

Country View Family Farms Installs Solar Panels at Four Locations

Country View Family Farms, the hog production division of global food producer Clemens Food Group, is installing more than 8,000 solar panels at four of its Pennsylvania farm locations, according to a company release.

The solar panels, designed in partnership with LuminaSun, are currently under construction at four of Country View’s farms in Pennsylvania. The project should be completed in early September.

William Fink, Facility Manager at Country View, is leading the project, as part of a series of ongoing sustainability initiatives. Once installed, the solar fields, will redirect a percentage of electricity generated back to the farm, as well as assist in offsetting CO2 emissions from other traditional sources of energy. Across all four locations, the solar array can generate almost 3 million kilowatt-hours of energy, which is equal to 221,769 gallons of gasoline, 4,562 barrels of oil, or 2,171,623 pounds of coal burned, the release says.

“We’re incredibly excited for the installation of these solar panels at our farms. At Country View, we are always looking for ways to increase productivity in ethical and environmentally friendly ways,” stated Fink, in the release. “We want to become self-sufficient, not only to use clean energy, as opposed to traditional energy sources, but to also help our communities by taking pressure off of local power grids. We are hopeful for the future of sustainability within agriculture and hope to install even more solar arrays at more of our facilities.”

Smithfield Foods and Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia Renew Partnership

Smithfield Foods, Inc. and Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia announced they have extended their years-long relationship to continue supporting children with critical illnesses across Virginia. Smithfield will contribute $10,000 annually to Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia through 2023, building on the company's previous donations totaling $30,000 over the last three years, the release says.

"Research shows that wishes have the possibility to give kids the hope and strength they need to continue in their battles for health," said Sheri Lambert, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, in the release. "We are deeply grateful for Smithfield's commitment to serving our community, and for being such a dedicated partner in bringing essential hope to children in their battles for health."

Smithfield's support for the organization goes beyond financial contributions. Julia Anderson, Global Chief Information Officer at Smithfield Foods, has served on the chapter's board of directors since 2018, volunteering her time to assist Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia's mission in a variety of roles. Anderson was recently re-appointed to the board for another term, during which she will serve through 2023, the release notes.

For more information about Make-A-Wish Greater Virginia, visit

Smithfield Foods Donates $2 Million To Connect Thousands of Students to Virtual Learning as School Year Resumes

Smithfield Foods has committed $2 million over the next two years to support the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, a non-profit organization helping create connections between education and the overall work readiness of citizens across the state. This grant will provide funding for wireless hotspots to better connect students in rural areas as well as address long-term internet access solutions for disadvantaged communities, according to a company release. As the 2020-2021 school year begins, Smithfield's donation will give thousands of households in Duplin, Sampson, Bladen and Robeson Counties access to virtual learning at a time of heightened need, as school districts increasingly rely on online education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These have been challenging times for so many across the country. Recognizing our ability to do more to support communities in our own backyard, we leapt at the opportunity to assist the North Carolina Business Committee for Education as it provides connection to rural communities during a time of uncertainty and when it is needed most," said Steve Evans, Director of Community Development for Smithfield Foods, in the release. "I am incredibly proud to be a part of this Smithfield Family as we begin to bridge the gap between our rural communities and the future."

As societal conversations across America have underscored inequalities across the United States. All too often, those disparities extend to connectivity and the steep digital divide that rural and underserved communities frequently face, the release says. As Smithfield focuses on creating a more inclusive culture within the company, as well as a more inclusive, equal and just society outside its four walls, the company recognized an immediate need to provide internet access for students in the communities it serves as schools across the state return to session, primarily via distant learning.

"We want to thank Smithfield for recognizing the urgent need to get North Carolina students connected and stepping up in such a big way," said Thomas Parrish, Acting Secretary of the N.C. Department of Information Technology and State Chief Information Officer, in the release. "It is critical to invest in our students, and partnerships like these help us better meet the needs of our communities during these unprecedented times."

Cooperatives Partner to Support Midwest Disaster Relief Efforts

Four of the nation’s cooperatives serving agriculture and communities across rural America have announced they are partnering to support the American Red Cross in the wake of the derecho that ravaged Iowa, Illinois and other Midwestern states in early August. CHS, CoBank, Farm Credit Services of America, and Land O’Lakes, Inc. will together donate $200,000 to aid relief efforts in the impacted region a joint press release says.

The American Red Cross has been providing food, water, shelter and other relief services since the storm hit. In Iowa and Illinois, the organization has provided more than 50,000 meals, distributed nearly 20,000 relief items and provided more than 1,900 overnight stays in hotels or congregate shelters. Red Cross volunteers and disaster workers continue to provide aid and comfort to those unable to return to their homes due to damage and ongoing power outages, the release notes.

“The devastation in Iowa following the derecho is tragic and unprecedented. After the storm hit, Red Cross volunteers were on the ground to assist those who were affected. We couldn’t do what we do to help communities recover without the support we receive from organizations such as CHS, Land O’Lakes, Farm Services of America, and CoBank. The recovery process in so many communities is going to be extensive. This generous gift allows us to deliver help and hope to families and individuals who are picking up the pieces and determining how to move forward,” said Jill S. Orton, regional chief executive officer, Nebraska Iowa Region, American Red Cross, in the release.

“The impact of this devastating storm on local cooperatives, farmers and rural America in an already challenging year won’t be fully known for a while, but we know it will be significant,” said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS, in the release. “Farmers and communities in rural America are resilient. The cooperative spirit living in these communities will help as they rebuild their businesses, their homes and their lives.”

“Rural communities across the nation have been affected by unprecedented challenges this year due to the effects of Covid-19,” said Thomas Halverson, CoBank’s president and CEO, in the release. “Now, America’s heartland has been hit with a significant natural disaster that could not have come at a more difficult time. Our hearts go out to those whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted. Our organizations hope that this joint contribution will help to ease the most immediate suffering and assist our customers, members, partners and their communities as they begin the journey to recovery.”

“The derecho has been devastating not only for ag producers, but also for the families, friends and neighbors in their communities. We continue to work with producers to address the financial needs of their agricultural operations, said Mark Jensen, president and CEO, Farm Credit Services of America, in the release. “By joining with other cooperatives to support the important work of the American Red Cross, Farm Credit Services of America hopes to broaden our reach to address the needs of entire communities in these challenging times.”

“As a nearly 100-year-old, farmer-owned cooperative, we know that we do better when we look after our neighbors and work together to help when things like the Midwest derecho storm hit. We’re proud to join other national cooperatives to do our part in supporting the vibrant, rural communities that continue to feed our country,” says Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc, in the release.