SALT LAKE CITY - Working to improve data and statistical relevancy as well as communication and collaboration for the benefit of the potato industry, United Potato Growers of America initiated and hosted a leadership meeting with 10 representatives of the United States Department of Agriculture. The day-long meeting was held in Salt Lake City on April 13.
"The potato industry is changing rapidly and growers' data and business needs are changing as well," said Albert Wada, UPGA board of directors chairman. "We arranged this meeting with the USDA to create a renewed synergism and partnership within the industry as well as develop standardized methods of collecting and interpreting data. As a result of our ongoing collaboration with the USDA, growers will be able to make better business decisions."
USDA agencies represented at the meeting included the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Agricultural Marketing Services and Farm Service Agency. UPGA board members were in attendance as was a representative from the United Potato Growers of Canada. Also at the meeting were representatives from the Washington State Potato Commission, Potato Marketing Association of North America, Idaho Growers Shippers Association, Idaho Potato Commission and the National Potato Council.
"The meeting was beneficial for everyone," said Carol House, NASS deputy administrator of programs and products who spoke at the meeting. "In order to fulfill our mission to provide timely, accurate and useful statistics in support of agriculture, we are counting on organizations such as the United Potato Growers of America to help us reach out to growers. The more factual the information growers provide to us, the more relevant our data will be."
"Holding meetings with key industry stake holders is another way we serve growers and support the future stability of the industry," said Julia Cissel, UPGA president and chief executive officer. "Growers need specific data in order to make the best business decisions in a highly competitive marketplace. We urge growers to respond to all USDA requests for information and surveys by providing accurate and complete information. By providing accurate information, growers ensure viable statistical data. Quality data is needed for optimum decision making."
Expected future programs and collaborations as a result of the meeting are:
- USDA will explore providing new, more specific data, to benefit growers, including a separation of fresh and process production.
- Cross training to be held for UPGA leaders and USDA representatives to improve understanding of data gathering methods, data quality, interpretation and usage.
- UPGA will communicate with growers, urging them to provide accurate and factual information and respond to all USDA telephone and mail survey requests.
- New technologies and automated systems for data gathering, reporting, and interactive maps will be tailored to fit the changing needs of today's grower.
"This meeting provided an excellent first step toward better partnering for the good of the potato industry," said Tom Cooper, Agricultural Marketing Services reporter. "This close working relationship will help us tailor our data gathering and reporting to fit the specific needs of the modern grower."