With an estimated half-million or more Japanese people left homeless in the aftermath of the disaster, there is an immediate need for essentials such as water and blankets, as well as a continuing need for food for those who will be displaced long-term.
For those organizations looking to participate in immediate relief efforts, USMEF is recommending two organizations -- The Japan America Society and The American Red Cross -- for potential contributions:
As the situation begins to stabilize, there still will be a dire need to feed these homeless families. To address this longer-term need, USMEF will serve as the umbrella for the U.S. red meat industry to pool its resources to provide food products to help those Japanese residents who are in need. Food shortages are expected to last into the summer months.
U.S. pork producers and importers through the National Pork Board (NPB) already have stepped forward with an allocation of $100,000 from the Pork Checkoff to purchase pork products for distribution in Japan. USMEF, through its Tokyo office, will work with Japanese processors and distributors to ensure that the product reaches consumers in need.
“As an American pork producer, I am proud that U.S. pork producers and importers through the National Pork Board (NPB) are the first to step forward and provide seed money for this critical initiative,” said Danita Rodibaugh, chair-elect of USMEF and a pork producer from Rensselaer, Ind. “We are hopeful that others will join us and offer their support for the people of Japan who have been great friends of U.S. agriculture.”
The second phase of the program is critical, according to USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng, because there will be a significant, ongoing need in Japan.
“It’s not uncommon for natural disasters to generate an immediate outpouring of support that wanes as the media moves onto other issues,” said Seng. “This program is designed to create a sustained effort after the spotlight has left those in need.”
Japan is arguably the key export market for U.S. red meat exports and the grains and oilseeds that support them. In recent years, Japan has been the top export customer for U.S. pork. In 2010, Japan purchased nearly 1 billion pounds of U.S. pork valued at $1.6 billion. Japan also was the No. 3 market for U.S. beef, purchasing more than 274 million pounds of product valued at nearly $640 million.
Every pound of U.S. pork exported represents the utilization of 1.3 pounds of U.S. soybeans through feed, while every pound of U.S. beef represents the utilization of 5.7 pounds of U.S. corn.
Organizations interested in partnering in the USMEF Japan Relief Program can contact John Hinners at 303-249-2954 (mobile) or 303-226-7318 (office) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.