Time For A New Grower Survey

What was the result?

Published in the May 2009 Issue Published online: May 03, 2009 David Fraser
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The objectives of the 2009 Grower Survey were, from a representative sample of potato growers in the U.S., to determine:

  1. The degree of grower support for the Board compared to prior years;
  2. Awareness and attitudes of growers toward specific aspects of the Board's activities
  3. Communications sources employed by growers;
  4. Characteristics of growers, e.g., acreage in potatoes, end use of crop, etc.;
  5. How perceptions of the Board might differ among different grower segments, e.g., region, acreage, etc.

So what were the results of the 2009 Grower Survey? Compared to 2005.

  • The overall job approval rating of the USPB was up significantly, as growers giving the USPB favorable ratings of excellent or good rose from 73 percent in 2005 to 83 percent in 2009, while unfavorable ratings fell from 19 percent to only 10 percent.
  • It must be noted the 10 percentage point increase came as the result of converting "Don't Know/Not Sure" growers from 8 percent in 2005 to 7 percent in 2009. However, more noteworthy is the fact those rating the Board's work as "Not Very Good or Poor" was significantly reduced from 19 percent in 2005 to just 10 percent in 2009.
  • Support for the programs funded by the USPB assessment was about the same in 2009 as was the case in 2005, with 83 percent saying they strongly or mildly support the programs.
  • Looking at growers' "Perceived Importance of the USPB's Long Range Goals," all of the goals of the Board were thought important. Among the four goals, fewer rated improving competitive position of potatoes as very important.
  • Analyzing "Ratings of Specific Aspects of the Board," with the exception of the way the Board is organized and run, all positive ratings of specifics were up significantly over 2005.
  • And where do growers say they get their information about the Board? The answer is: from many different sources; however, some 9-in-10 said they still received their information about the USPB from industry-wide publications. Surprisingly, 65 percent claim to receive their information from online sources.

So, from the preceding conclusions of the 2009 USPB Grower Survey, it becomes quite clear that, more than ever, U.S. potato growers overwhelmingly support the demand-building programs of the USPB.

Other than the determination growers clearly support the USPB more than in the past, why is this significant?

During its summer 2008 meeting in Pasco, Wash., the USPB Executive Committee collectively recognized the need to sustain the momentum of current USPB programs, which continue to "Maximize Return on Grower Investment." The domestic and global market strategies to increase demand for U.S. potatoes and potato products have been highly successful, but industry and economic conditions eroded the USPB's ability to fund the future needs of all its programs.

The USPB Executive Committee proposed to increase the assessment level in order to maintain the value in all programs.

The proposed one-half cent assessment increase was first presented and discussed in regional caucus meetings and during the full Board meeting at the March 2008 USPB annual meeting. Termed the "Grower Leadership Initiative" to actively reflect the roots of the proposal and its proponents, USPB Grower Leaders facilitated state and regional discussions about the need to increase the USPB budget throughout this past winter at every state meeting and trade show. During the USPB's 37th annual meeting, March 10-13, at the Westin Tabor Center in Denver, Colo., board members of the USPB voted overwhelmingly to increase the assessment rate by a half cent. The proposed assessment rate increase received broad support across all potato producing regions, with Board members voting by a margin of 91 percent in favor of increasing the assessment rate.

Growers and handlers across the United States, who are presently paying 2.5 cents per cwt., could begin paying 3 cents per cwt. at the earliest, in Spring 2010.

Each regional caucus reported favorable support for this Grower Leadership Initiative to increase the assessment rate by a half cent.

With an 83 percent job approval rating, a 91 percent margin of passage for the Grower Leadership Initiative and the mounting success and widespread industry adoption of the "Potatoes.Goodness Unearthed" campaign, more than ever, U.S. potato growers overwhelmingly support the demand-building programs of the USPB. In return for the industry's vote of confidence in the USPB, Board Members and staff will continue to work diligently to ensure every penny of grower assessment is invested to "Maximize Return on Grower Investment."