Cargill was recognized at a grand opening ceremony of the Pork Education Center at Fair Oaks Farms on Sunday, June 28, 2015, for its $750,000 contribution that will enable Fair Oaks Farms' non-profit arm to educate students and the general public on modern agriculture production practices that benefit the environment, use fewer natural resources, and improve sustainability for crop and animal production. The contribution will be used for the development of interactive, educational kiosks and curriculum, as part of a cafeteria learning center that will be built in 2016. The facility will be used to educate visitors and students about the agriculture industry, sustainable practices and production methods.
The ceremony was emceed by Fair Oaks Farms CEO Gary Corbett, and attended by local and state government officials, industry ambassadors, media and Cargill representatives. The event coined a "Sizzling Day of Bacon" included concerts headlined by the world-renowned The Bacon Brothers, featuring actor Kevin Bacon and his brother, Michael Bacon, an Emmy Award-winning composer for film and television.
Fair Oaks Farms is one of the biggest and most sophisticated dairies in the country, set on 32,000 acres and home to 37,000 cows, divided among 11 different milking operations producing enough milk to feed more than 8 million people annually.
First conceptualized in 2004, Fair Oaks Farms' agri-tourism arm came to fruition through the development of The Dairy Adventure, a 22,000-square-foot dairy educational center which includes a 50-minute bus tour of one of their eleven 3,200 cow dairies and a cheese plant all open to the public.
In addition to The Dairy Adventure, Fair Oaks Farms unveiled The Pig Adventure in 2013, which includes a 3,000 sow breed-to-wean production facility and the ability to accommodate tours. Visitors witness sow breeding, gestation and farrowing areas that allow for both safety of the animals and visitors. In 2014, an 18,000-square-foot restaurant including banquet facilities opened to accommodate increased demand from visitors. Eighty percent of the menu includes foods grown or manufactured on the farm. Adjacent to the restaurant is a bakery and farmer's market that sells products from the farm daily. Fair Oaks Farms hosts more than 50,000 students and more than 500,000 visitors from 50 states and more than 30 countries annually.
"Throughout Cargill's 150-year history, we have supported local communities in which we have the privilege to operate," said David Webster, president and business unit leader of Cargill's premix and animal nutrition business. "Fair Oaks Farms is a shining example of our support for not just the community, but also our customers and ultimately the consumers we serve."
Visitors will also learn about the safety and nutritional value of meat, milk, eggs, fruit and grains, as well as trending topics, such as animal welfare and handling, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and organics.
"Fair Oaks Farms is honored that Cargill elected to join our efforts to educate youth about modern agriculture," said Gary Corbett, chief executive officer of Fair Oaks Farms. "Cargill's generous gift will allow us to continue to expand the journey we started in 2004 by providing educational and entertaining agriculture experiences for our visitors."
"Together, we believe it is critically important to reach young students, especially in their formative years, with a positive message about agriculture so they understand more about their food, how it is produced and that we have a safe food supply with many healthy choices available from modern agriculture practices," said Charles Shininger, managing director of Cargill's premix and nutrition business in North America.
Future plans for Fair Oaks Farms' portfolio of agriculture experiences include the opening of crop, egg and layer, cattle, sheep and goat education centers, a John Deere equipment museum and a 200-room hotel with a 50,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor swimming pool and convention center, in addition to the facility that will be built in 2016.