GFVGA Future Leader: We Need to Drive Demand

Clint Thompson Georgia, Top Posts

By Clint Thompson

The next leader of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) is concerned about the sustainability of his farmers who are coping with low market prices.

Chris Butts

Chris Butts, GFVGA director of legislative affairs who will become executive vice president on Dec. 1 following Charles Hall’s semi-retirement announcement, reminisced about a conversation he had with a local producer last week. The conversation epitomizes what farmers are having to overcome.

“He sent me invoices for the last month where his zucchini prices have gone from $16 a box to $3. Cucumbers are doing the same thing. They were at $20 a box. Now I think it’s $12 and he said it’ll be down to $6 before the end of (last) week,” Butts said.

“When a farmer walks away from a crop in the field because it’s no longer profitable to pick it, and meanwhile we’ve got folks in need of fresh fruits and vegetables which people don’t have access to, that system’s broken.

“We’ve got to find a way to make it profitable for the grower and get those fresh fruits and vegetables out to the folks that need them and want them.”

Educating Consumers

Communication needs to be a vital part of the industry’s playbook so demand can continue to increase.

“We continue to talk about the benefits of American grown fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s everything from the health benefits to the benefits of buying local and supporting your local economy,” Butts said. “We need to drive that demand, so consumers not only appreciate but demand American Grown product. I guess on the import side, we’ve just got to continue to look for different paths to provide some relief for our farmers. We’ve still got three ITC (International Trade Commission) investigations going with two reports due in December. We’re hopeful we might see some relief there. There are different legislative ideas being kicked around and discussion for the next Farm Bill that could be an option.”

Butts joined the GFVGA team in 2020.