No matter if we are talking about supply and demand data or membership in United Potato Growers of America, there is definitely strength in numbers. This year, we potato growers have been consistently reminded that the laws of supply and demand control the marketplace. It does not matter where it happens, the smallest fluctuation in supply or demand can affect potato prices—significantly.
In just a few months of this magazine’s print date, United Potato Growers of America will celebrate its seventh year as a grower cooperative that focuses on assisting its members in managing and marketing their supplies. Reaching this milestone is an accomplishment that gives me much pride as I conclude my final year as chairman of the board.
In 2011, under the umbrella of the Capper-Volstead Act, United Potato Growers of America and its 10 cooperatives were able to:
• Defend our organization in a U.S. District Court hearing against accusations of anti-trust violations;
• Launch a rigorous membership campaign that resulted in many growers joining United, including growers who had never before been members;
• Form a price-reporting committee to develop processes and improvements on behalf of members;
• Renew our focus on managing members’ old-to-new crop transition based on a model we created in the red potato sector;
• Continue our acreage counting initiative, which verifies the plantings so we can better anticipate production while the crop is in the ground; and
• Launch new communication channels that provide members with instant facts about the ever-changing marketplace.
Our hopes and aspirations were affirmed this year when an agriculture industry writer said that United’s success has demonstrated what can happen when the potato industry pulls together—everyone wins.
Again, as part of our investment in the industry, United sponsored, at no charge, crop transition conferences for growers of fresh potatoes, a North American potato seed grower meeting and co-sponsored a North American fresh and process potato grower summit. We also presented 11 United Potato Partners seminars for all 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 proving to be central to potato grower education.
I thank the United board of directors and membership for trusting me to serve as chairman for this second year. As I close out this year and transition to the new chairman, and as I reflect on the progress we as potato growers have made since forming United, I feel a debt of gratitude toward our industry for providing me with the ability to make my living. I also recognize and appreciate the importance of the laws that protect and foster family farms and grower cooperatives.