As United Potato Growers of America enters our sixth year, we have never forgotten that we growers own and guide this farmer cooperative, and it's by working together through the provisions of the Capper-Volstead Act that we have bolstered the stability of the industry.
We have much to be proud of in the industry, and the formation of United is a bright spot for grower success. Through United, we are able to provide the structure, processes and communication forums to collaboratively solve grower-member supply problems. As members of United, we are better able to bring our products to market through the Capper-Volstead Act.
In 2010, despite last year's crop challenges, we were able to:
Build co-op membership and pique the interest of East Coast growers who are considering joining;
Create more awareness and understanding between our 10 member cooperatives about issues unique to each growing region;
Encourage member cooperatives to identify processes, programs and communication approaches that work especially well, and then share these best practices with the other United cooperatives to support continual improvement;
Upgrade our use of technology as we continue our acreage counting program and provide a secure website for member access to our data;
Continue our involvement with the United States Potato Board to push for an increase in fresh demand and partner with the National Potato Council to work on market access issues, and;
Complete a multi-year strategic plan to guide us into the future.
As part of our investment in the industry this year, United sponsored, at no charge, crop conferences for growers of red and white potatoes, a potato seed grower meeting and a co-sponsored North American fresh and process grower summit. We also presented 11 United Potato Partners seminars for industry members who wanted to learn more about the crop outlook and become better educated about the current state of the industry. United industry information meetings are becoming central to grower education and demonstrate our commitment to sustaining this great industry.
Looking ahead, we expect another challenging year as we tackle the ever-tricky problems of predicting demand for our potatoes. United will meet the challenge by remembering that we are member-owned, driven by our farmer cooperative structure and working on our members' behalf.
My thanks to the United board of directors and membership for trusting me to serve as your chairman this year. I look forward to United's progress in 2011 as I complete my two-year term. I believe growers are moving in the right direction with United. If you haven't joined yet, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (801) 517-9000, and we will provide membership information.