The Virtuous Circle

The benefits of having a good crop rotation

Published in the January 2012 Issue Published online: Jan 23, 2012 Lee Frankel
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Potato growers are familiar with the virtuous circle that comes from having a good crop rotation. The benefits include increased soil fertility, reduced pest pressures, control of weeds and reduced soil erosion. These benefits ultimately lower costs as there is less need for additional outside chemicals and fertilizers.

The potato industry is also blessed with three sets of organizations that are helping to build a virtuous cycle for the benefit of potato grower-members. United and the Potato Marketing Association of North America, along with their local cooperatives, work to make sure that member growers have the information necessary to meet the needs of consumers while creating sustainable returns for members. United puts its members on equal footing with the handful of buyers who dominate the market. By creating a fairer playing field in the market, members are financially better able to serve consumers with reliable supplies from year to year.

The promotional efforts to increase long-term demand led by the U.S. Potato Board and many state potato commissions become more effective when customers have a reliable supply and growers receive fair returns for their labor. Supermarkets are more likely to follow the best retail practices researched and developed by our promotional organizations when supplies are consistent. Foodservice users are more likely to add potato-based items to their menus when supplies are reliable. In addition, stronger grower returns have allowed for increased assessments for the national and state organizations to expand their great work to create positive consumer perceptions of potatoes. Ultimately, the successful work to increase demand increases the size of the market to help generate more income for potato growers.

A financially healthy potato industry can support the political efforts of the National Potato Council and state commissions. Not only can the industry sustain grower assessments, a healthy interest brings more sponsorship and exhibitors from input suppliers to the Potato Expo and state potato conventions. The political efforts help manage production costs through smarter and fairer application of new laws and regulations, open and preserve foreign markets for our potatoes and keep access to schools and federal nutrition programs. Ultimately, these political efforts maintain production costs lower than they otherwise would be, keeping potatoes competitively priced compared to other commodities in the fight for their share of the plate. These political efforts also increase the size of the market for U.S. potatoes both at home and abroad.

I am proud to have played a part of this virtuous circle that allows the potato industry to continue to improve its long-term health. I appreciate the confidence and trust that members of United and PMANA cooperatives have placed in the staff of the organizations at the national and local levels. With your continued membership and support, I believe we can keep this positive feedback cycle delivering value back to your family and farm.