The joint Potato Growers of Idaho/National Potato Council summer meetings were a great success. Held in Twin Falls, ID, on July 13th through 16th, the meetings brought together growers and leaders in the potato industry from around the country. Growers addressed many issues, including legislative, environmental and trade.
"We were pleased with the turn-out. There was a lot of participation on both the national and state level," says PGI President Doug Hanks. There were over 200 people at the meetings.
This is a little more than past meetings due to the number of local growers and the number of conjunctive meetings. In addition to the NPC and PGI, the UNITED Potato Growers of America, Seed Potato Growers of Idaho, and SIPCO all held meetings in conjunction with the event.
Several distinguished guests spoke to the attendees. Pat Takasugi, director of the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, spoke at a breakfast on Thursday morning. He talked about the direction and focus that the industry needs in order to remain a competitor in the world market.
Dr. Jim Butler spoke at the Friday breakfast. Dr. Butler is the USDA Undersecretary for Foreign Agricultural Service, Farm Service Agency, and Risk Management Agency. Dr. Butler and several assistants were in Idaho to check on the implementation of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program initiated by PGI.
Idaho State Senator Brad Little of Emmett addressed problems in dealing with the endangered species and clean water acts. At the Friday lunch the President and CEO of McCain Foods Limited, Dale Morrison spoke to the group.
"When you're through changing, you're through," Morrison said. "The potato industry must be more passionate about embracing change as a friend and growing the industry." He wants to see both the renovation of old ideas and the innovation of new ideas in the potato world.
The NPC's Women's Auxiliary held an auction after the banquet on Friday evening. The money raised will go to the Potato Political Action Committee and toward two $2,000 scholarships. These scholarships are awarded to graduate students doing potato research.
Gary Rawlings, a long-time advocate of the potato industry and past editor of Potato Grower Magazine, was recognized and honored during the banquet. PGI Executive Director Kieth Esplin said, "We are grateful for the work that Gary has done. He has worked hard to promote and inform the potato industry in both the state and nation."
The meetings concluded on Saturday with a farm tour in the Magic Valley. The tour included the McCain Foods plant in Burley, and ended with a barbecue at the home of NPC President Dan Moss.
"We are pleased with the work accomplished this week. As an industry we are now better informed and organized. We would like to thank the meeting sponsors and supporters of the NPC for making these successful meetings possible," Moss said.