G&R Farms in Tattnall County has finalized an agreement with the National FFA Organization to support scholarships for students in production agriculture. Under the agreement, G&R will contribute a percentage of sales from its 2017 Vidalia onion crop to enhance educational opportunities for young people who are committed to future farming careers.
The new initiative, "Growing America's Farmers," was the brainchild of Walt Dasher, a third generation southeast Georgia farmer who is a strong advocate of FFA. As a partner in G&R Farms, he found it was difficult to hire young people to work on the family farm. In fact, it was becoming a growing problem, no pun intended.
"Over the years, we found that people under the age of 30 in rural areas like ours expressed very little interest in farm work. This caused me great concern because we all know that a lack of farmers could create a myriad of problems for our country," said Dasher. "Can you imagine if we experienced a food supply shortage in the United States and had to depend on foreign countries to feed our families?"
Dasher noted that the average age of an American farmer is 57 and trending older with each passing year. Determined to do his part to combat the problem and increase awareness across the country, Dasher formulated a program in conjunction with the National FFA Organization to support the scholarship initiative for future farmers.
"Without the land being plowed and the crops being planted, nurtured and harvested, our country would be devastated. At G&R, we're committed to helping America's future farmers. We are very excited about partnering with FFA nationally to provide scholarship opportunities for aspiring farmers," said Dasher.
Molly Ball, president of the National FFA Foundation, commented, "Supporters such as G&R Farms and their customers help sustain the future of agriculture and help achieve the FFA vision of growing leaders, building communities and strengthening agriculture."
G&R Farms and the Dasher family have built a reputation as leaders in the Vidalia onion industry since a few acres of the crop were harvested 72 years ago by Walter L. Dasher near his home in Glennville, GA.
Today's operation has grown to include over 5,000 acres of southeast Georgia farmland operated by Robert, Pam and Walt Dasher. G&R Farms is recognized as Georgia's oldest grower, packer, marketer and shipper of world famous Vidalia onions.
In 2017, G&R grew 1,300 acres of Vidalia onions, representing nearly 12 percent of the 11,000 total acres planted in Georgia's onion belt.
Harvest projections are expected to reach nearly six million pounds, according to Walt Dasher, grandson of the farm's founder.
For more info about Growing America's Farmers, contact the National FFA Organization at (317) 802-6060 or G&R Farms at (912) 654-2100.