Encouraging younger generations of farmers to get involved in the produce industry can be a daunting task, but the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association executive board members decided it was a necessary one for the association’s operations in 2015.
“Our board members are looking toward the future of the industry,” said GFVGA Executive Director Charles Hall. “They realize the importance of providing education and guidance for production and in getting involved in alliances like (GFVGA) so we are stronger as a group.”
This discussion took place at the GFVGA’s annual strategic board meeting early in February. The day-long board meeting serves as orientation for new members and allows GFVGA leadership and staff to create a program of work and strategic plan for the upcoming year.
Directives from the board included digging into other agricultural leadership programs for young farmers and seeing how GFVGA can either initiate its own, or join with others through financial support. Through partnering in programs like this, GFVGA hopes to develop the next generation industry leaders and consequently, strengthen membership and support.
Other focuses of the day included education, marketing for GFVGA and an overview of GFVGA’s newly branded food safety program, Produce Food Safety Services (PFSS).
What began as the Georgia Good Agricultural Practices Program, or GA GAP, a food safety certification service available for GFVGA members, has now expanded to include consultations, mock auditing and walkthrough services for almost any auditing scheme. Read more about PFSS at www.producefoodsafetyservices.com.
Newly elected GFVGA President Charles Hart was pleased with the meeting. “We had great participation from our board members during the meeting and we’re looking forward to implementing some great programs in 2015,” he said.
In 2015, GFVGA will offer 1-3 regional educational workshops throughout the state on pertinent topics. Some education examples from 2014 included a series of workshops with law experts on the new regulations of the Affordable Healthcare Act and a quick seminar and panel with representatives from USDA’s Risk Management Agency and other insurance experts to discuss the benefits of Whole Farm Revenue Protection Programs.
Four growers were added to the GFVGA Board of Directors this year: Brent Bloser, Evergreen Produce LLC, Adel, Ga., Bo Herndon, L.G. Herndon Jr. Farms in Lyons, Ga., Jennifer McMillan, Southern Grace Farms in Enigma, Ga., and Jason Tyrone, South Georgia Produce in Lake Park, Ga.
The morning following the meeting, GFVGA staff and board members attended the Georgia Agribusiness Council’s annual Legislative Breakfast. Attendees heard from Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and House and Senate Ag Chairmen State Representative Tom McCall and Senator John K. Wilkinson.