Published online: Jan 19, 2007
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WASHINGTON, DC--At the National Potato Council's Annual Meeting in Newport Beach, CA, Don Sklarczyk, a producer of tissue culture potato plants and minitubers from Johannesburg, MI, was eleted to lead the NPC as president in 2007. Sklarczyk is in business with his wife, Mary Kay, and his son, Benjamin.

Sklarczyk Seed Farm has the capacity to produce over 3.5 million minitubers in two crop cycles per year. They presently ship their production to not only within the U.S. but also to Canada, Mexico and Chile.

Over the next year, Sklarczyk's top priority is to begin the development of a data record keeping system that will provide up-to-date records on potato production practices. This project is expected to tatke a number of years to complete an it is widely believed that it will be of tremendous value to the industry once the data is compiled.

Some of the major opportunities and challenges facing Sklarczyk and the NPC over the next year include Potato Cyst Nematode research and eradication, the promotion of free trade and removing non-scientific barriers as well as monetary barriers, and the drafting of the new farm bill to include a specific title for specialty crops, including potatoes.

"Carving out a place in the new farm bill for specialty crops will require a lot of time and effort by the U.S. potato industry and all other specialty crop producers. The new farm bill provides positive opportuniteis to improve protections from invasive pests, increased research, expanded consumption of fruits and vegetables, and expanded export opportunities," stated Sklarczyk. "Potato growers must recognize the importance of getting to know the political system and those involved. From a local level up to the national level, all growers should contribute both opinions as well as finances."

In addition, the delegates approved Richard Polatis of Blackfoot, ID, to serve as the vice president of Trade Affairs, Ed Schneider of Pasco, WA, to serve as vice-president of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, Justin Dagen of Karlstad, MN, to serve as the vice president of Finance and Office Procedures, Roger Mix of Center, CO, to serve as the vice president of Environmental Affairs and Steve Crane of Exeter, ME, to serve as the vice president of Grower and Public Relations. Jim Wysocki of Bancroft, WI, who served as the president in 2006, will continue to serve on the Executive Committee as the immediate past president.

The 2007 Board of Directors is comprised of Ed Staunton (CA), Byron Kunugi (CO), Sherrel Mix (CO), C.J. Robinson (CO), Harry Strohauer (CO), Ken Wicks (DE), R.J. Andrus (ID), Mark Coombs (ID), Boyd Foster (ID), Doug Hanks (ID), Ray Hess (ID), Klaren Koompin (ID), Albert Wada (ID), Shawn Walters (ID), Wes Wootan (ID), Fred Flewelling (ME), Gaylen Flewelling (ME), Dan LaBrie (ME), Howard Viegelahn (MI), Jason Walker (MI), Justin Dagen (MN), Greg Stocker (MN), Sid Schutter (MT), Joe Thompson (NE), Bill Brooks (NJ), Ralph Child (NY), Maurice Berry, Jr. (NC), John Galegher, Jr. (ND), Mark Thompson (ND), Todd Michael (OH), Tony Amstad (OR), Jim Carlson (OR), Nels Iverson (OR), Helen Masser (PA), Milt Carter (SD), Ellie Charvet (WA), Cully Easterday (WA), Paul Morris (WA), Randy Mullen (WA), Dennis Richins (WA), Phil Schoenig (WA), Ted Tschirky (WA), Vic Anthony (WI), Jim Bacon (WI) and Mike Finnessy (WI).

Each member of the Board of Directors serves as a representative from their respective state and serves on at least one of NPC's six committees.