Reservation lands receive delivery of sheep

Hundreds of live sheep were delivered to needy families on the Navajo Reservation on Memorial Day as part of the “Farmers Feeding Utah” project. The distribution was for families in the Montezuma Creek, Aneth, Red Mesa, and Tódahadekanii areas.

An additional distribution of live sheep will take place for the Halchita, Oljato, and Navajo Mountain areas on June 1.  

“Farmers Feeding Utah” is a collaboration between farmers and ranchers and needy families in Utah. 

The group’s first “miracle” project focused on the Navajo Nation in San Juan County which has been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The gift of live sheep is particularly important for this project as the local Native American communities have a powerful connection to sheep.

Rebecca Benally, who helped coordinate the distribution of the sheep, explains that the sheep are highly valued because of the food they provide and the products they provide for rug weaving and cultural ceremonies. Historically, the sheep industry was critical to the Navajo people after they returned from the Long Walk.

In total, the donations total more than 100,000 pounds of sheep, including 80,000 pounds of meat.

In addition to the live sheep, the project includes the donation of 10,000 pounds of locally-produced Bluebird Flour, also very popular in Native American communities.

In general, “Farmers Feeding Utah” deliveries in other areas of the state will include food that is ready for consumption rather than living animals.

Its first delivery was approximately 18,000 pounds of frozen lamb meat to the Blanding Food Pantry on May 22. The lamb is from the Sanpete County ranch of Drew Jorgensen. 

Partners for the “Farmers Feeding Utah” collaboration include the Utah Farm Bureau Federation, the Utah State University Hunger Solutions Institute & Create Better Health Program, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Utah Department of Agriculture & Food, Utah Division of Emergency Management, Utah Wool Growers Association, and the Utah Wool Marketing Association.

Benally helped coordinate the deliver of the sheep from her home south of Montezuma Creek. A long stretch of vehicles stretched in the distance, with grateful families lined up for the sheep and flour. An additional deliver of live sheep will begin in Montezuma Creek and make stops in Halchita, Oljato, and Navajo Mountain.

The campaign is using donations to help sustain farmers and ranchers impacted by COVID-19 while providing food and donations to Utah families in need and can be found at FarmersFeedingUtah.org.

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