Two years ago, the Idaho Potato Commission established three volunteer-driven committees comprised of industry members from across the state as a way to open dialogue about opportunities and challenges facing Idaho growers, shippers and processors.
The goal of all the committees is to bring these issues to the forefront. Another goal is to develop and implement practices that ultimately create a stronger, more unified group all working together to promote and protect the integrity of one of the most recognized brands in the world-the Idaho potato.
The committees meet several times each year; below is a recap of the projects that are top priority right now.
Marketing Committee Chairman: Scott Mickelsen, Rigby Produce
Vice Chairman: Allan Taylor, Taylor Produce
Committee Mission: Provide input on the overall marketing of fresh and processed potato products that are sold domestically and internationally.
Current Initiatives: At the May committee meeting, leadership was tasked with the job of reducing the number of yearly audits fresh warehouse facilities must conduct. Acknowledging the "audit fatigue" the warehouses were experiencing, committee leadership approached the National Potato Council to discuss the development of a nationwide solution. As part of a produce-wide initiative, the NPC and United Fresh initiated a Good Agricultural Practices harmonization effort that includes fresh warehouse audits.
The committee has been working directly with other industry leaders to develop the first "harmonized" audit that will be tested this fall on an Idaho farm. Once the results have been compiled, results will be used to develop a commodity-specific audit for all Idaho potato growers.
For up-to-date information on the United Fresh GAP Harmonization Audit Process, visit www.unitedfresh.org/newsviews/gap_harmonization.
Agriculture Affairs Committee Chairman: Todd Gerratt, Ida-Gold Farms
Vice Chairman: Tom Brown, ConAgra Foods
Committee Mission: Provide input on many issues relating to farming practices including, but not limited to, environmental, legislative, regulatory, immigration and labor.
The committee also provides guidance on the GAP and sustainability programs.
Current Initiatives: Mexico market access continues to be the top priority for the Ag Affairs committee. Members have been working directly with the American Potato Trade Alliance in order to help lessen Mexico's restrictions on fresh potato imports and tariffs on frozen potato products.
One of the leading and ongoing challenges is balancing the phyto-sanitary conditions between the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Research and Education Committee Chairman: Jeff Harper, Flying H Farms
Vice Chairman: Boyd Foster, Vista Valley Ag, Inc & Foster Co.
Committee Mission: Provide input on basic research funding for industry-identified priorities. This includes disease management, variety improvement, pest resistance, integrated pest management, input management, GAP and sustainability.
Current Initiatives: The committee met in November to discuss 2012 crop research initiatives. One of the most pressing concerns for the industry is acrylamide and developing breeding initiatives that reduce the level of acrylamide in potatoes.
The final research initiatives will be announced in March 2011 for the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Visit www.acrylamidefacts.org.
The committees have been working extremely hard and have offered many recommendations that have benefited the entire industry. For more information about the committees, please contact the IPC office directly at (208) 334-2350 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.