The True Relationship

The potato industry showcases its environmental stewardship

Published in the March 2012 Issue Published online: Mar 05, 2012 John Keeling, Executive VP and CEO
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Those outside of the farming world may not understand the true relationship between the agriculture industry and its natural resources, or consider how growers understand it is a privilege and a duty to care for and protect their land.

For example, to help "protect" the environment from farming operations, the federal government now requires growers to file National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) pesticide general permits for pesticide applications "to, over or near" waters of the United States. Not only does this requirement create an expensive duplicative regulatory burden for growers, it will do little to protect our nation's environment.

To help present a more accurate picture of the partnership between potato growers and their environment, NPC and DuPont recognizes growers who are reducing the risks associated with the use of pesticides on their farm without compromising potato yield or quality.

Each year, in conjunction with the NPC's Annual Meeting, the potato industry honors a growing operation with NPC's Environmental Stewardship Award. The annual award is a component of the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, a partnership between NPC and the U.S. EPA to protect the environment and to promote the safe and effective use of pesticides.

During NPC's 2011 Annual Meeting, held January 6-7 in Orlando, Fla., NPC was pleased to present Heartland Farms of Hancock, Wis., with this year's award. Heartland Farms was recognized for its sustainable water management practices, including the use of low horsepower irrigation pumps to reduce power usage, soil moisture probes and low-pressure irrigation systems with drop nozzles to reduce evaporation. Heartland's use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), which includes monitoring fields for the presence of pests, establishing thresholds for treatment and applying pesticides to targeted problem areas, was also cited.

A video of Heartland Farm's sustainability practices was created through the generous sponsorship of DuPont Agricultural Products. Each year, videos of Environmental Stewardship Award winners are used by schools, agricultural organizations and civic groups to demonstrate the potato industry's commitment to sound environmental stewardship.

These videos help tell the story of what is really happening on the farm to the non-farm audience and also provide valuable information to growers on state-of-the-art environmental stewardship. This year's video highlighting the great work done by Heartland Farms is available online at www.youtube.com/user/NatlPotatoCouncil.

NPC is currently accepting nominations for the 2012 Environmental Stewardship Award. The deadline to submit nominations is March 15. The selection will be made by the NPC Executive Committee and the award will be presented at the NPC 2013 Annual Meeting. For more information, contact spudinfo@nationalpotatocouncil.org or (202) 682-9456.

Each of our annual Environmental Stewardship Award winners have a strong tradition of utilizing agricultural practices that improve environmental quality, protect wildlife and make their farms more productive for subsequent generations. As Jeremie Pavelski from Heartland Farms said, "Land and water is the lifeblood of agriculture, and we need to ensure we are vigilant with our precious resources. At Heartland Farms, we utilize the latest technology and good agriculture practices to help safeguard the availability of these resources for generations to come."

Growers all across the country recognize that environmental stewardship and economic growth go hand-in-hand. Please help us share that story by submitting your nomination for our 2012 Environmental Stewardship Award.

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