Pacific International Marketing Inc. is making a big contribution to the Produce Marketing Association’s Foundation for Industry Talent program.

The Salinas, Calif.-based Pacific International is pledging $250,000 to the program that works to encourage young people to enter the produce industry.

The gift pushes the program past the $4 million mark of the group’s $5 million “Our Industry … Our People” founding capital campaign goal that would support programs through 2012.

Pacific International president and chief executive officer Tom Russell said the industry is facing a shortage of passionate young people with an interest in produce.

“It is imperative to the industry to support programs like PMA FIT to ensure we have a proactive approach in finding and recruiting bright individuals that will keep the produce industry moving forward,” he said in a news release.  “If we sit on the sidelines and watch the best and brightest get recruited by other industries, we have no one to blame but ourselves. By making this contribution to PMA FIT, we are investing not only in someone else’s future, but our own.”

The employee-owned grower-shipper produces conventional and organic fruits and vegetables in California, Arizona  and Mexico.

Bill Schuler, chairman of FIT’s board of directors and president and chief executive officer of the Castellini Co., Wilder, Ky., called Pacific International’s donation a generous and huge boost to the foundation’s fundraising goal.

“This contribution demonstrates how the produce industry is keeping the importance of recruiting and developing talent for their organizations in focus even in today’s tough economic climate,” Schuler said in the release.

Pacific International donates to PMA FIT fund