Glennville, GA – G&R Farms is excited to announce the addition of new vendor allies Bushman’s, Inc, RPE, LLC, and Virginia Produce to the Growing America’s Farmers (GAF) program adding potatoes and sweet corn, along with sweet onions to the expanding cause marketing campaign.
GAF is the brainchild of Walt Dasher, a third generation southeast Georgia farmer and a strong advocate of Future Farmers of America (FFA). Thanks to past retail partnerships, this program has helped raise over $250,000 for FFA member scholarships. As it enters its sixth year, Dasher commented, “Buyers were starting to ask, how do we make the program bigger and create more impact and the best way to do that is to get more vendors involved and more commodities represented and I’m grateful to Bushman’s, RPE & Virginia Produce for understanding my mission.”
That mission is to get scholarship and grant dollars in the hands of students pursuing careers in production agriculture. Bushman’s, RPE and Virginia Produce each represent multi-generation vertically integrated farming operations that understand the need to cultivate the next generation of farmers. Rachel Atkinson-Leach, director of category & brand management for RPE remarked, “It takes more than sales and data to fill shelves with fresh produce, it takes a farmer who understands the land, who plants a crop, nurtures it and harvests it so we can bring it to market, it is not lost on us at RPE that we do not have enough farmers and we are excited to support our buyers and the GAF program so we can be part of the solution.”
Today, the ag industry is facing a labor crisis, but also a farm crisis. Not only do farm labor jobs go unfilled, but family farms are getting harder to convey due to the cost of land and inputs making it difficult for young people to choose production agriculture as a career. Growing America’s Farms, along with the National FFA Foundation aims to play a role in raising awareness of the role of the American farmer, while also providing training and recruitment options along with grants and scholarships for students pursuing careers in production agriculture. Jennifer Hawks, VP of finance and administration for Virginia Produce stated, “The FFA program is near and dear to our hearts at Virginia Produce. We are thrilled to participate in the GAF program, as educating and encouraging potential young farmers is vital to the growth and success of more producers in this country. We feel a deep rooted responsibility to sow the value of farming into this generation, and we hope to spark the interest of others to do the same within our industry.”
Currently eight regional and national retail chains support the GAF program and the addition of potatoes and sweet corn raises hopes to more than double current contributions for scholarships in more than a dozen states.
Mike Gatz, director of business development for Bushman’s closed by saying, “This will be our second year supporting the GAF program and we saw firsthand the impact this program made in our home state of Wisconsin, not just on sales and retail engagement, but in the support of students in the FFA program.” Gatz continued, “Every grower-shipper and every retailer in the United States should be looking at this program and recognizing its potential to help support and secure the boots on the ground, dirt under your fingernails part of our industry that grows the food we all sell and consume.”
Across the country, FFA is attracting and training the next generation of agriculturists. 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.
The 2022 GAF program officially kicks off in May but is available year-round for any retailer or qualified vendor to participate in. For more information contact the G&R Sales team at (912) 654-2100 to discuss building a GAF marketing program for your organization.
About G&R Farms
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.
About Future Farmers of America (FFA)
The National FFA Organization is the premier youth development organization for agricultural education students that provides life-changing experiences for its members. Those experiences are driven by a strong mission and a compelling vision. The organization’s 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.