To help mitigate potential losses due to the COVID-19 response, Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Georgia Grown program has joined up with partners from Georgia Farm Bureau, University of Georgia Extension Service and Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association to promote Georgia Grown produce through retail and direct-to-consumer channels. Georgia’s spring fruit and vegetable harvest has an estimated farm gate value of $500-$750 million, and roughly 50% of that is traditionally marketed through foodservice. However, with much of the foodservice channel closed due to the COVID-19 response, farmers could find their promising crops have no place to go.
“The supply is there. The food is there. The quality is there. We just need to make sure the demand is there as well,” says Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black. “Consumers often ask what they can do to help our Georgia farmers and the answer is simple. Expect Georgia Grown, ask for Georgia Grown and buy Georgia Grown.”
A mixed media campaign will encourage consumers to Buy Georgia Grown, Now More Than Ever. The collaborative effort includes PSAs, direct to consumer purchasing platforms, recipes. and preservation tips for fresh produce, all supported by a targeted social media campaign using the hashtags #NowMoreThanEver, #BuyGeorgiaGrown.
“It is important that we support Georgia’s number one industry, agriculture,” says Georgia Farm Bureau President Gerald Long. “We are pleased to partner with Georgia Grown and the UGA Extension in helping remind consumers that our farmers feed and clothe the world by producing the finest food and fiber.”
Consumers can purchase from Georgia Grown businesses with e-commerce and home delivery capabilities by visiting www.georgiagrown.com. In collaboration with Georgia Grown, UGA Extension is using its network of county Extension offices to connect agricultural producers with consumers looking for fresh, Georgia-grown products at https://extension.uga.edu.
“UGA Extension is excited to be able to use our statewide local network of Extension offices to help connect Georgia citizens with the farmers that provide delicious, Georgia Grown products,” says Dr. Laura Perry Johnson, Associate Dean for UGA Extension. “It is in all of our best interest to work collaboratively to keep Georgia’s top economic driver – agriculture – healthy and prosperous as we fulfill our mission to serve the state.”
Agriculture is the top industry in Georgia with production and related industries representing $76 billion in output and more than 399 thousand jobs.
“This is not the first time our fruit and vegetable farmers have had to overcome challenges,” says Commissioner Black. “In the last several years they have endured historic hurricanes, late freezes and trade wars. Georgia’s agricultural sector is strong because our farmers are strong, and I feel confident that Georgia consumers are strong as well and will rise with them to meet this new challenge before us.”