May 14, 2018 – Rouge River Farms joins a fast-growing network of certified growers that have made a commitment to improve labor conditions, food safety and pest management through Equitable Food Initiative’s workforce development program.
The company’s farming and packing operations in Clewiston, Florida, became EFI’s first certified grower shipper on the East Coast after meeting more than 300 rigorous indicators, based on independent assessment by third-party certifier SCS Global Services.
Rouge River Farms is a year-round sweet corn grower with operations in Florida, Georgia and Virginia, as well as in Ontario, Canada, where it grows and packs bulk and value-added sweet corn. Certified sweet corn featuring EFI’s Responsibly Grown, Farmworker Assured™ label is now available in selected Costco Wholesale locations east of the Mississippi River, and farmworkers receive a premium from sales of the EFI-labeled brand.
As a 30-year-old company that has grown its roots from a roadside stand to a multi-national operation, Rouge River understands the importance of transparency and customer satisfaction. Robert Reesor, president of Rouge River Farms, remarked, “We have always made food safety and quality a priority, but EFI’s process for skill-building and workforce development programming allows us to place an even greater emphasis on the task, knowing that every employee understands and executes on that process.” Reesor continued, “With the EFI leadership team model, we were able to fully engage all levels of our staff even more deeply around food safety, as well as working conditions and pest management.”
“Through the evaluation audit process, Rouge River Farms has demonstrated that it has the full commitment of management and an engaged leadership team – both of which are essential to meet the rigorous requirements of EFI certification and make transparency a priority,” said Bonnie Holman, sustainability program manager at SCS Global Services.
Rouge River Farms has earned EFI’s 28th certification, helping to consolidate a compliance model that drives business performance, engages employees to ensure food safety and empowers consumers to make informed choices. Unlike other certifications, EFI also requires ongoing training, which is part of a model for continuous improvement that is always raising the bar. The certification of the Florida operation is Rouge River’s first, and plans are being made to certify additional growing operations.
To date, EFI has helped certify 10 grower-shippers representing 39 commodities and impacting more than 26,000 farmworkers.