In response to last week’s fast-moving wildfires that consumed more than 1,000 square miles (650,000 acres) of rural Kansas, Cargill’s Wichita-based North America protein business is donating $50,000 in new fencing materials to ranchers in the Ashland area of Western Kansas. 

Much of the impact was to grazing land on ranches in the western part of the state, with thousands of cattle perishing as wind-swept flames raced across pastures throughout the region.  Estimates indicate that up to 100,000 miles of ranch fencing was destroyed in Kansas, with additional fencing destroyed in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma wildfires. 

“We know there are a lot of cattle producers that lost herds, buildings, fences and grazing land, and it’s their hard work that helps us produce beef enjoyed by Americans and people around the world,” stated Casey Mabry, strategic supply manager in Cargill’s cattle procurement team.  “When we contacted the Kansas Livestock Association, they told us what was needed more than anything is fencing materials to rebuild what was lost to fire.  We knew time was of the essence and that we needed to help as much as we could, as quickly as possible.”

Christina Taylor, associate brand manager in Cargill’s beef marketing team, first proposed helping ranchers late last week after seeing heartbreaking news coverage of the losses.  Cargill’s protein leadership team quickly approved the donation.  The Cargill Wichita team then purchased two semi-tractor-trailer loads of fencing materials from a supplier in Chanute, Kan., for delivery Tuesday, March 14, to relief efforts in the Ashland area.  From Ashland, fencing materials will be distributed to local ranchers. 

“In Dodge City, Kan., we have a large beef processing facility that employs 2,400 Kansans and harvests cattle from some of the ranchers impacted by last week’s fires,” stated Taylor.  “Helping those who are part of our beef supply chain is the right thing to do – it’s part of our DNA at Cargill and it’s gratifying to know we could help those who lost so much rebuild their lives.”

Additionally, Cargill’s team in Dodge City is providing support to two beef processing plant employees who lost their homes and all of their belongings to nearby wildfires.

“Our mission to nourish people, animals and the planet in a safe, responsible and sustainable way sometimes means lending a hand to people in need, and that’s exactly what we’re doing in western Kansas,” explained Taylor.