Operation Southern Comfort
Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau Announces "Operation Southern Comfort"
Relief Efforts for Louisiana and Mississippi Farmers & Ranchers
Hurricane Katrina that has ravaged our nation's southern coastal states has wreaked devastation on Louisiana and Mississippi agriculture, with the state's horticultural, dairy, cotton and poultry industry taking the brunt of the Category 4 event.
County Farm Bureau Executive Director, Teri Bontrager, whose Farm Bureau roots extend to the Mississippi agricultural community said, "The hardest hit were young farm families, in their twenties, who are working their farms and have second jobs to pay the interest on notes for their farm enterprises."
Farm Bureau President, Sam Frye, a south coast avocado and citrus grower, said, "Our Farm Bureau has stepped up to the plate to provide ‘Salad for Soldiers," (the organization's nationally recognized effort to thank service members and their families for their sacrifices made in harm's way) and we have continued to support the ‘Harvest for All' program, which provides food, monetary donations and volunteer hours to our nation's ‘Second Harvest,' of which our Santa Barbara County Foodbank is a beneficiary. We have the opportunity," he said, to help our fellow farmers and ranchers in the wake of one of the most devastating hurricanes to ever hit the Gulf Coast states."
Announcing a grassroots relief effort, Frye has called on the county's agricultural community and the community at large to contribute desperately needed dollars to assist the farmers and ranchers of those agricultural areas desolated by Hurricane Katrina. "Every penny will go to help our fellow farmers and ranchers," declared Frye.
The Farm Bureau leader, recognizing the generosity of our communities in donating to Red Cross disaster relief efforts, urged contributors not to decrease those commitments, but to "dig a little deeper to help those folks who provide food and fiber to our nation and the world."
Bontrager, who has been in contact with members of the Mississippi and Louisiana State Farm Bureaus said, "Every facet of their agricultural industry has been affected, from livestock producers who have lost beef cattle and feed to cotton farmers who have lost 70 to 80 percent of their crop; and from hardwood timber farmers who have lost trees and infrastructure and horticulturists who have lost growing facilities to the poultry farmers who are fighting to save what is left of their flocks. The most pressing need," she said, "is to help them pay for diesel fuel to run generators to provide cooling for their poultry and milk; without that, they will sustain a total loss."
Because federal disaster relief will be too late to help those whose needs are of the greatest urgency, the Farm Bureau has established a fund to bring immediate relief to the farmers and ranchers who have suffered such incredible losses.
"Our hearts go out to those farmers and ranchers," said Santa Ynez Valley farmer and state Farm Bureau Vice President, Doug Mosebar. "We all need to get behind this effort," he said.
Donations for "Operation Southern Comfort" can be made payable to the G.A.A.T.E. Foundation and mailed in care of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, P.O. Box 1846, Buellton, CA, 93427. Please make sure you put "Operation Southern Comfort "or Hurricane Relief on the memo portion of the checks.
For additional information, contact Teri Bontrager at 805-688-7479.
The Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, affiliated with the California and American Farm Bureau Federations, is a membership organization whose goal is to protect and promote agriculture in Santa Barbara County. The Farm Bureau currently represents over 1,800 member families in Santa Barbara County, 90,000 in California and over 5 million nationwide.