United-America Signs Kern Produce, Shippers Assoc.

Published online: Jun 26, 2006 UPGA
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United Potato Growers of America announced a new member has joined the co-op--Kern Produce Shippers Assoc., a grower co-op in central California's Kern County.

This Kern Produce Shippers Assocation is a grower co-op that represents about 20 growers with 15,000 acres of fresh production that fits the early marketing season.

With the addition of the new California co-op, UPGA now has seven member chapters. Currently they are in central California, Colorado, Idaho, Klamath Basin, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin. An at-large co-op represents growers in Nebraska and Kansas. A sister organization has been simultaneously organized in Canada as United Potato Growers of Canada.

Albert Wada, UPGA board of director's chairman, said, "The addition of the Kern Produce Shippers Association represents a significant milestone in United's progress. United provides infrastructure so that growers can share information, evaluate and analyze the market, and better communicate and cooperate to stabililze our markets."

"By joining UPGA, our co-op will have access to critical information year round beyond our three-month shipping timeframe, " said Thomas Franconi, who will direct the Kern Produce Shippers Association's UPGA involvement.

"Our membership in United allows us to connect to the entire grower industry. Our goal is to help improve the market and avoid the big market dips our growers have experienced, " he stated.

"We welcome Kern Produce Shippers Association to United," said Julia Cissel, UPGA president and chief executive officer. "By involving central California growers, we continue our work to enlist potato growers across the county in our supply management programs.

"As industry leaders, we are helping growers change from a production focus--which has historically meant overproduction and selling at a loss--to a consumer demand focus."