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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a unique program in place to help needy members of their church and to help other people as well. The church grows its own food to be used for needy members; for example, if a church member was temporarily unemployed. The food is also used in times of disaster. An example of this was Hurricane Katrina where much food was donated by the church to victims of Hurricane Katrina. In both cases, both Mormons and others have been helped by food grown on Mormon-owned farms.
Currently, the church owns 64 farms for welfare (i.e. non-profit) purposes. Where are these farms located? Most are found within the United States. Other farms are located in Argentina and Zimbabwe. Where all of these farms are located and the total number of acreage are unknown.
- Where does the money come from to purchase these farms?
- Church members fast, generally on the first Sunday of each month. The money that would have been spent on these two meals is contributed to the church.
- Where does the labor come from?
- Generally, the labor comes from church volunteers who live in the area of the farm. There are few paid employees on these farms.
Virtually every item you can think of is grown on Mormon welfare farms. Oranges and grapefruit are grown at the church's extensive land holdings in Florida. Strawberries and apples grow in Ohio. Tomatoes are raised in the Sacramento, California area. Raisins come from the Fresno, California area. The Mormon Church is thought to be one of the largest potato producers in the United States. The Mormon Church is also believed to be largest producer of nuts in the United States with farms in the San Joaquin Valley in California. Apples are grown in Idaho. Pears grow in Oregon and bean farms are in southern Idaho. Cattle are raised in Florida.
It is believed that the largest farm owned by the Mormon Church is the 312,000 acre ranch in Florida where cattle are raised. Many cattle ranches are owned by the Mormon Church in the western United States, including Deseret Ranch which is located on the Utah-Wyoming border with about 200,000 acres. On one occasion, the Mormon Church stated publicly that it owns 288,000 acres of land in Nebraska, making the Mormon Church one of the largest landowners in Nebraska.
What happens to all of this food? It is shipped by a fleet of trucks owned by the Mormon Church to processing centers and canneries. One of these canneries is found in Aurora, Colorado where a variety of items are canned such as peaches. An example of a church-owned processing center is the one in Mesa, Arizona which produces spaghetti sauce. Next, the food is shipped,again by church-owned trucks, to supermarkets owned by the Mormon Church known as Bishop's Storehouses. The food will be shipped all over the world to help Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Some of the food goes to non-Mormon food banks.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has formed what may be the largest private welfare system in the world. The farms owned by the Mormon Church are an integral part of this welfare system.
- Richard and Joan Ostling, Mormon America-The Power and the Promise, published in 1999 by HarperCollins Publishers in San Francisco, California, pages 113-129
This article was written on September 12/2007