Sep 2, 2021G&R Farms expands Growing America’s Farmers with new efforts
During the months of May and June, G&R Farms in southeast Georgia partnered with 13 regional and national retail operators throughout the United States to raise nearly $90,000 in scholarship and grant funds for FFA students in 22 states through the Growing America’s Farmer’s promotional program.
Growing America’s Farmer’s (GAF) is the brainchild of Walt Dasher, a third-generation southeast Georgia farmer and a strong advocate of Future Farmers of America (FFA). During the past five years the GAF program has already raised $150,000 for FFA member scholarships, but the 2021 program broke records thanks to growing retail and partner support, including first time grower-shipper participant Bushman’s Inc. with many participating retailers seeing increased sales during the promotional period.
The program works by the supply partner setting aside a percent of total retail sales for the participating retailer, followed by a donation being made to the National FFA Foundation in the participating retailer’s name. The National FFA Foundation then redirects those funds back to state and local FFA programs of the retailer’s choice where they support students pursuing careers in production agriculture.
Now more than ever, production agriculture is at a crossroads that requires all areas of the supply chain to be engaged and support future agriculture leaders that will grow the food needed to support a growing population that will need 70% more food by 2050.
Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black, a long-time supporter of the GAF program remarked, “The Growing America’s Farmers program shows the importance of upstream and downstream business partnerships and the valuable resources they provide to foster and create opportunities for students by supporting endeavors that could ultimately have a significant impact on our local, state, national and global economy. The more we can highlight and encourage these types of partnerships, the more likely we are to reap the rewards and support future security in our food systems.”
That food security in production agriculture is what Dasher is so passionate about when he talks about the next generation of farmers. “The current average age of the American farmer is 58 years old and they are part of multi-generation family farms that are facing more pressure,” Dasher, vice president of G&R Farms, said in a news release. “We need to attract, support and train young agriculture leaders that will become the torchbearers and next generation of food producers. The FFA is truly one of our greatest resources to do this well.”
Across the country, FFA is attracting and training those leaders. In fact, FFA membership is at a record high with 760,000+ members in 8,739 chapters across all 50 states, including chapters in 24 of the 25 largest U.S. cities. Additionally, it is setting records in member diversity.
One participating Midwest retailer had this to say about their participation in the GAF program, “We are a proud supporter of the Growing America’s Farmer program. American agriculture is vital in today’s world as it not only feeds the world, but helps maintain the quality of land that both nourishes us and also helps protect our natural resources, and we remain committed to supporting farms and the farm families who are the backbone of our fresh offerings.”
“As a third-generation family farm, this is about more than marketing and promotions, this is a personal mission that hits at the heart of who I am and what I stand for.” Dasher said. “As professionals in the food industry, and as consumers, we should all recognize how important it is to support, foster and inspire the next generations of producers who will not only grow our food, but also elevate our food systems. This is how we will be able to secure our ability to have access to one of the safest, most accessible food supplies in the world.”
Planning for the 2022 GAF program will begin in October and officially kick off in March for National Agriculture Month. Any retailer or grower-shippers interested in participating in the 2022 program should contact the G&R Sales team at (912) 654-2100 to discuss participating in the GAF program.
As a third-generation family farm, G&R Farms began in southeast Georgia with a small farm in 1945. Today, the organization has grown to over 5,000 acres encompassing several crops with a main focus on sweet onions. G&R Farms has been growing, packing, marketing and shipping sweet onions for nearly seven decades. The company is dedicated to providing consistent quality year-round while perfecting the quality and flavor of sweet onions through research and development. For more information visit www.grfarmsonions.com.
The National FFA Organization is a school-based national youth leadership development organization of more than 760,000 student members as part of 8,700 local FFA chapters in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The FFA mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education. For more, visit the National FFA Organization online at FFA.org and on Facebook and Twitter.