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Retailers show support for new ag scholarship program

Participating retailers in 30 states are contributing a percentage of sales from this year’s crop of Vidalia Onions to support Growing America’s Farmers, a non-profit foundation that provides college scholarships through the National Future Farmers of America Organization.Scholarshiprecipients2018-webScholarships provided by Growing America’s Farmers are awarded at various FFA State Conventions. Pictured are some of Georgia’s 18 scholarship recipients at their annual convention earlier this year.

Total proceeds are not yet complete but GAF Founder Walt Dasher said scholarship recipients have been announced by a wide range of FFA state chapters where many of the participating retailers are located.

“We’re both excited and appreciative of the wonderful support we have received from retail partners from around the country,” said Dasher, a third-generation farmer and partner in G&R Farms, Georgia’s oldest grower of Vidalia Onions. “This is a combined effort made possible by the commitment of many national retailers to help us award scholarships to deserving students who are pursuing careers in production agriculture.

“This is GAF’s first full year of operation and the response has exceeded our expectations. We will continue to work diligently with our retail partners and the National FFA Organization to increase awareness about the steady decline of young people who are interested in production ag career opportunities.”

The current average age of a U.S. farmer is 58 years old and rising. By comparison, the average age of a farmer was only 50 in 1987. Dasher said this has become a growing trend and GAF’s primary goal is to encourage and recruit young adults to become tomorrow’s leaders in the field of production agriculture.

In 2017, G&R Farms entered an agreement with the National FFA Organization to provide college scholarships from a percentage of its Vidalia onion sales. This marked the beginning of GAF and a multi-tier effort to involve retailers who support educational opportunities for young people aspiring to become America’s future farmers.

G&R is one of Georgia’s oldest grower, packer, marketer and shipper of world famous Vidalia onions. From its fields to world-class climate-controlled storage, packing and shipping facilities it has set industry standards for quality and food safety. In 2017, G&R Vidalia onions were featured on Delta Air Line’s seasonally-rotating Delta One menus for select international flights outbound Atlanta, building on the Dasher’s longtime support for the Georgia Grown initiative. When Vidalia onions are not in season, G&R grows Peruvian Sweet Onions that are imported and shipped from its Georgia headquarters.