G&R Farms Extends Growing America’s Farmers Program; Raises $88,000 for Future Farmers of America; Walt Dasher and Gary W. Black Discuss
GLENVILLE, GA - As members of fresh produce, we understand the important role that farmers play in not only our industry, but the entire food system. Supporting the future of agricultural growth and the next generation of produce leaders, G&R Farms partnered with thirteen regional and national retail operators across the U.S. throughout the months of May and June to raise almost $90,000 to go toward scholarship and grant funds for Future Farmers of America (FFA) students in 22 states.
“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,” said Walt Dasher, Vice President of G&R Farms. “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.”
The scholarship and grant funds will be distributed to students through the Growing America’s Farmer’s (GAF) promotional program, the brainchild of Dasher, who is not only a third-generation southeast Georgia farmer, but a strong advocate for FFA. According to a press release, over the past five years, the GAF program has raised $150,000 for FFA member scholarships, with the 2021 program breaking records due to growing retail and partner support, including first time grower-shipper participant Bushman’s, and with many participating retailers seeing increased sales during the promotional period.
GAF works by having supply partners setting aside a percentage of total retail sales, followed by a donation being made to the National FFA Foundation in the participating retailer’s name. Following the donation, the foundation then redirects funds back into state and local FFA programs of the retailer’s choice, supporting students pursuing careers in production agriculture.
“We are a proud supporter of the Growing America’s Farmers 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,” added one participating Midwest retailer.
Currently, production agriculture is at a crossroads that requires all areas of the supply chain to be engaged and in support of future industry leaders that will grow the food needed to feed the growing population, the release went on to explain. By 2050, 70 percent more food will be needed to feed the planet’s population.
“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,” added Dasher. “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.”
Throughout the U.S., FFA is attracting and training future agricultural leaders, with the program’s membership hitting a record high of more than 760,000 members in 8,730 chapters across the country. The organization is also setting records in member diversity as more students join.
“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,” commented Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black, a long-time supporter of the GAF program. “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.”
Planning for the 2022 GAF program will start in October and will officially kick off in March for National Agriculture Month. Retailers or grower-shippers interested in participating in the program are encouraged to reach out to the G&R sales team to discuss their potential role in helping strengthen the future of the industry.
Cheers to G&R Farms and all of its partners who continue to help support the agricultural community!