When you meet new people, the first questions you get asked is "Who do you work for and what do you do?" Living where I do in Southwest Tennessee, where the nearest potato field is about two hours away and the next closest potato area is a few hundred miles beyond that, I always have a great opportunity to start a conversation about how potatoes are "America's Favorite Vegetable" and part of a healthy, nutritious diet. In the six years I've been with the United States Potato Board, I have yet to encounter someone who doesn't love potatoes.
That's the easy part of the conversation.
What takes a bit more explaining is what Industry Communications and Policy (ICP) does. I've found the easiest way to explain that is to ask if they invest in stocks or mutual funds. And since about everyone does, I ask if they regularly get information about how their investments are performing. Of course, they all do and comment they are always interested to know how their investment in a company is performing and what the prospects for future growth and profitability are. "Well," I say, "that is exactly what the USPB Industry Communications and Policy Department is: we are the USPB's Investor Relations group."
Because just like investing in equities, U.S. potato growers and importers are making a substantial investment in the future of their enterprises through the work of the USPB "to increase demand for potatoes and potato products through an integrated promotion program, thereby providing U.S. producers with expanding markets for their production."
So, with that USPB mission statement, the mission of ICP remains simple and straightforward:
1) Communicate the USPB's strategies and programs in a meaningful way to the entire industry;
2) Communicate the USPB's role in increasing demand for potatoes and potato products and supporting the industry;
3) Communicate the grower's ROI from USPB programs and how to utilize the USPB's programs and strategies in their own businesses.
Whether it be our bi-weekly Industry Update and bi-monthly Fresh Grower-Shipper Update e-newsletters, the industry website at www.uspotatoes.com, our new Smartphone App, the "U.S. Potato Update" airing within the popular "Farm & Ranch Report" produced by the Northwest Ag Information Network and broadcast every Wednesday on 29 stations throughout Washington, Oregon and Idaho, our many press releases issued every month, our monthly columns here in Potato Grower magazine and other industry publications, the USPB Annual Report published within the National Potato Council's (NPC's) Statistical Yearbook, our continued co-management of the very successful annual Potato Industry Leadership Institute, our presence at all the winter meetings and trade shows, and last but certainly not least, the USPB's co-title sponsorship with NPC of Potato Expo. As you can see, there are many ways for the industry to be informed of their return on investment in the USPB. So, no matter when, where or what you want to know about how your investment is doing, USPB Industry Communications & Policy is delivering information that is easily accessible, informative and up-to-date.