Published online: Sep 01, 2009
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"Agribusiness-as-usual isn't agribusiness-as-usual," notes Tim Feit, Director of Promotions and Consumer Education for the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association (WPVGA). "From agricultural research and growing practices, to farmers' markets and the `buy local' momentum seen in grocery stores, people are looking for sustainable practices from field to store." To that end, Feit attended the Food Marketing Institute's Sustainability Summit, held in San Francisco, California, from August 17-19. WPVGA also providing Healthy Grownr potatoes for the FMI Sustainability Task Force Members Dinner on August 16. 
The Sustainability Summit brought together leaders from all sectors of the food industry, as well as sustainability experts from the government, academia and advocacy groups, in order to help participants drive sustainability throughout their business. 
"We wanted to be part of the sustainability conversation," notes Feit. "The WPVGA has been making a concerted sustainable farming effort for over a decade through the Wisconsin Eco-Potato Partnership-a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin and the World Wildlife Fund-and we feel it's important to partner with other sustainability leaders in order to grow the sustainability effort in our industry." 
The Wisconsin Eco-Potato partnership helps potato growers reduce the use of crop protection inputs-such as nutrients, pesticides and other additives-by adopting integrated pest management (IPM) alternatives-biologically based pest management systems that do not harm the environment. The partnership works to reduce contamination of water, conserve natural ecosystems, and increase productivity through IPM and crop rotation. The International Crane Foundation and the Defenders of Wildlife are also part of the partnership. 
The Wisconsin Eco-Potato partnership received the prestigious USDA Secretary's Honor Awards for Maintaining and Enhancing the Nation's Natural Resources and Environment in 2003, the World Wildlife Fund Gift to the Earth Award, the international IPM Award of Achievement in 2005, and the International Crane Foundation Good Egg Award for Excellence in 2006. 
As a result of the Eco-Potato Partnership, WPVGA has developed the eco brand, Healthy Grown potatoes. Healthy Grown potatoes are not genetically modified produce; are grown according to stringent environmentally friendly growing standards; and are available in russets, reds, yellow flesh and round white varieties.