BLACKFOOT, Idaho – The Potato Growers of Idaho (PGI) recently announced that the organization will continue to operate as a viable association within the Idaho potato industry.
The transition committee, which was organized by PGI’s executive committee to determine the future of the organization, is recommending that PGI be restructured to operate with very limited staff and minimal overhead costs. The organization’s primary functions going forward will be to maintain a political action committee (PAC) and will continue our membership in Grower’s National Cooperative (GNC), a farmer owned co-op providing benefits to our members, which with local affiliated agents that can help with crop insurance needs.
“The consolidation of PGI’s primary activities into the Idaho Potato Commission (IPC) was an important step forward for growers and our industry,” said PGI President Ray Hess. “However, the IPC cannot be involved with PAC activities or hire lobbyists, and that is why PGI will continue to exist in a limited form to ensure that those activities can continue.”
A portion of the money raised by PGI will also go to fund the National Potato Council's (NPC) PAC. Since PGI’s PAC is limited to Idaho state elections, the NPC’s PAC will be used to support federal candidates who are supportive to the potato industry, including Idaho’s own congressional delegation.
“The costs to effectively run a winning campaign even on the state level are very high. If we want candidates who are friendly toward agriculture to be elected, it will take more and more money to help them get voted into office,” said Hess. “We are confident we can significantly increase the amount of money we raise for our PAC under this new structure.”
The newly restructured PGI will no longer retain the year-round services of a professional lobbying firm in Boise; however, the transition committee indicated that a lobbying firm could be contracted on specific issues of critical interest to the potato industry.
PGI will still hold the annual meeting banquet, PAC auction, and PGI’s annual meeting in November of 2007. District elections will also be held in November. The chairmen who are elected from each district will serve as the new governing board. The PGI office will remain open on a reduced schedule through the end of the year in order to complete these and other ongoing projects.