BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Jul. 30, 2007 – Wal-Mart Stores announced today that Hermiston, Ore. based Walchli Farms will be showcased during the month of July in conjunction with the company’s Salute to America’s Farmers program. Salute to America’s Farmers, launched in September 2006, is a yearlong campaign to spotlight Wal-Mart’s commitment to purchase from local growers for distribution to stores in their areas in support of locally grown agricultural products. With melon season just beginning, Walchli Farms will team with Wal-Mart Stores to provide homegrown melons to numerous Wal-Mart Supercenters in the region. The company’s commitment to Oregon businesses includes more than six hundred companies and Walchli Farms represents one example of the many agriculture products featured in local stores.
“Wal-Mart buys more United States agricultural products than any other retailer in the world and we’re proud to introduce Salute to America’s Farmers as a tribute to our country’s growers, underscoring our company-wide commitment to farmers across the United States,” said Ron McCormick, Wal-Mart Stores vice president for produce. “We understand that consumers want to purchase quality products that help support the local economy and we’re proud of our ability to bring wholesome, home-grown selections to our customers in Oregon. This commitment not only allows us to offer fresh, quality selections but also generate savings on distribution costs that we can pass on to our customers.”
Walchli Farms is a family-owned company, which has been a Wal-Mart partner for more than a decade. Skip Walchli started growing melons in high school, and founded Walchli Farms with a small bank loan and seven acres of land. Now the farm, totaling more than 2,000 acres, grows thousands of melons that are shipped directly to Wal-Mart stores in the Pacific Northwest region. Walchli and his children now run the day-to-day operations of the farm, growing asparagus, wheat, potatoes and hay in addition to melons.
“Wal-Mart has been good to work with. We send a couple bins of melons a day to our local store,” said Skip Walchli, owner of Walchli Farms. “We’re proud that our hand-picked Walchli watermelons and cantaloupe are always available at the Hermiston store and around Oregon.”
Wal-Mart launched the Salute to America’s Farmer program in September and each month has showcased a local grower from selected states. Local farmers and growers in all 50 states will be spotlighted throughout the upcoming year. During each state’s showcased month, consumers can identify local produce via corresponding signage in local Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets.
“Thank you to Wal-Mart for recognizing local farmers who contribute wonderful, high quality products to your store. I am especially thrilled that Wal-Mart is recognizing one of Oregon’s top notch farm families, Walchli Farms from Hermiston, Oregon,” said Director of Oregon Department of Agriculture, Katy Coba. “The Walchli family has been a long time producer in the Hermiston area and exemplifies the excellent fresh, wholesome and high quality product that we Oregonians know and love. We are happy to share some of our Oregon grown product from the Walchli family with all Wal-Mart customers.”
Wal-Mart’s relationships with U.S. suppliers extend beyond its support of local agriculture. In 2005, Wal-Mart spent $200 billion on merchandise through its relationship with 61,000 U.S. suppliers. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc spent $432,821,614 for merchandise and services with 645 suppliers in the state of Oregon in FYE 2007. As a result of these supplier relationships, Wal-Mart supports 29,421 supplier jobs in Oregon.
As of June 2007, Wal-Mart’s presence in Oregon includes 14 Supercenters, 15 Discount Stores for a total of 9,915 associates.
About Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT)
Every week, millions of customers visit Wal-Mart Stores, Supercenters, Neighborhood Markets, and Sam’s Club locations across America or log on to its online store at www.walmart.com. The company and its Foundation are committed to a philosophy of giving back locally. Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT) is proud to support the causes that are important to customers and associates right in their own neighborhoods, and last year gave more than $270 million to local communities in the United States. To learn more, visit www.walmartfacts.com, www.walmartstores.com, or www.walmartfoundation.org.