United Fresh Envisions "United America"

Published online: Dec 03, 2004 UFPGI
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United Fresh Potato Growers of Idaho, in a bold move December 2, voted to move its own commitment date to January 17, 2005, two weeks before the original general memership in-or-out date.

The 23 founding members of UFPGI, with 100 percent signed commitment, is working rapidly and tirelessly to iron out acreage and supply management details.

Many are also working with various other potato production areas such as the Klamath Basin in northern California/southern Oregon, Wisconsin, Colorado, the Columbia Basin and the Skagit Valley in Washington, and the Umatilla Basin in Oregon.

The group invisions formation of a national cooperative, possibly to be called United Potato Growers of America, which could include many other grower associations/growers in both the United States and Canada

"The speed and commitment of growers coming together nationwide demands the formation of a federated national cooperative with representation from all potato-producing cooperatives," a news release stated.

Many grower groups in many potato-producing states and Canada have been in contact with UFPGI and have expressed interest in the United concept.

UFPGI has over 80 percent of all acres dedicated to fresh potatoes in Idaho commited under membership agreements. More agreeements continue to flow in. 

Within the last week alone, United of Idaho has successfully negotiated Memorandums of Understanding with the directors of all potato grower groups in Idaho, including Potato Growers of Idaho, Potato Management Company, Seed Potato Growers of Idaho, and the Southern Idaho Potato Cooperative.

While each MOU must still be ratified by the general membership of the respective organizations, ratification appears likely. Through the cooperation insured by these MOUs, total acreage working together with UFPGI exceeds the 60 percent level of all Idaho potato acres.

The two most difficult points to define for the group are acreage and supply management. The Board realizes the need for possible flexibililty of individual operations and acreage fluctuations due to rotation of crops and consolidation of farm units. These problems have to be fairly addressed while understanding and protecting the supply limitation of the market.  

On December 7, leaders of UFPGI will meet with a large group of growers in Colorado to help facilitate the formation of United Fresh Potato Growers of Colorado. UFPGI will also make presentations on December 9 to grower/leaders from across the nation at the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee-, National Potato Council- and the United States Potato Board-sponsored Outlook Summit in Colorado Springs, CO.

Growers in Wisconsin are holding meetings this week to work toward the formation of United Fresh Potato Growers of Wisconsin. UFPGI is in communication with both Wisconsin and Colorado groups and is lending support and assistance to these efforts.

 Grower groups interested in the cooperative marketing concept can get more information at www.unitedpotato.com. E-mail inquiries can be directed to: info@unitedpotato.com .