Growing America’s Farmers
(L-R) Jim Williams, executive director of development for the National FFA Organization; Walt Dasher, founder of Growing America’s Farmers and co-owner of G&R Farms; Mark Poeschi, chief executive officer of the National FFA Organization.
Retailers support ag scholarship program
National FFA Organization receives contribution from Growing America’s Farmers
Participating retailers in more than 30 states contributed a percentage of sales from this year’s crop of Vidalia Onions to support Growing America’s Farmers (GAF), a non-profit foundation that provides college scholarships through the National Future Farmers of America Organization.
GAF Founder Walt Dasher of G&R Farms said scholarships will be awarded through FFA chapters in many of the states where participating retailers are located.
“The support we have received from our retail partners continues to grow,” said Dasher, a third-generation farmer and co-owner of G&R Farms, Georgia’s oldest grower of Vidalia Onions. “Our goal is to get more young people to pursue careers in production agriculture. I am thankful for the commitment we have received from retailers and the National FFA Organization. Together, we are making more scholarships available to deserving students.”
“Growing America’s Farmers 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 farming careers.”
Today’s average age of a U.S. farmer is 60 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 2015, G&R Farms awarded a few scholarships in conjunction with the State of Georgia’s FFA Foundation. This marked the beginning of Growing America’s Farmers, a dream that became a reality for Dasher. Two years later, he entered an agreement with the National FFA Organization to provide college scholarship funding.
Dasher added, “We are working to build year-round support for our scholarship program. I have never asked anyone for much, and never will. But with a little more help, we can go a long way. Farming is the backbone of America. What are we going to do in 15 years if there are not enough farmers to feed our country?”