The 2nd seminar of the VALOR program led us to eastern part of our state. One of the many things that I already love about the VALOR program is that I get to carve out time to travel to different parts of my home state. My work with Milton’s Local takes me to different parts of Virginia, in addition to Maryland and DC, where I get to meet many honest and hardworking farmers. However, there was something different about going to a worksite as a member of the VALOR program. Perhaps it felt different because I approached the visit with a different agenda or perhaps it was because the tour that most resonated with me was that of Smithfield.
Working with local processors and small to medium sized local farmers means that the operations I usually tour are on a much small scale than Smithfield. Although, I obviously knew what a huge market player Smithfield is, I was still taken aback by the sheer scale of their operation.
The Suffolk location processes 10,000 hogs a day with close to 2,000 workers per shift. That was probably the most remarkable statistic that I took away with me; nearly 2,000 workers per shift with 3 shifts a day! I imagine that most people would be shocked to hear that Smithfield’s operation in Suffolk is such a significant employer there. It was also very interesting to learn that Smithfield decide certain cuts based on the market price for those cuts on that particular day. Smithfield truly has a local response to a global market. All of this was fascinating to some who is the founder of a company focused on a truly local market.