The Last Man Standing Myth

Fresh potatoes and the reality of capitalism

Published in the January 2014 Issue Published online: Jan 17, 2014 Jerry P. Wright
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In November, I had the pleasure of traveling to Idaho Falls, Idaho for the Idaho Potato Commission’s (IPC) annual Whistle Stop Tour. The Tour provided an opportunity to meet with Idaho potato growers, shippers and processors in eastern Idaho and share details of the consumer, foodservice, retail and international marketing programs, present the new television commercial and talk one-on-one with them about industry opportunities and challenges. I was also able to introduce the IPC’s three new commissioners who were sworn in at IPC’s October meeting—Tommy Brown, Peggy Grover and Ritchey Toevs—and recognize the other six commissioners.

I initiated this Tour when I started working at IPC 10 years ago to help improve communication between IPC and the industry. The Tour has evolved over the years and currently consists of two meetings that take place on one day. The first lunch meeting is open to all Idaho potato growers and is held in conjunction with the United Potato Growers of Idaho meeting. The second presentation, a dinner meeting, is tied to the Idaho Grower Shippers Association (IGSA) meeting. However, Idaho industry members can attend either meeting.

Every year, we consistently register between 90 and 100 attendees for each meeting, many of whom were unable to attend the IGSA annual meeting in Sun Valley. Ultimately we would like every grower to know about and support IPC’s marketing initiatives that position the Idaho potato as a premium product and maintain its standing as one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world.

To help us reach growers who are unable to attend the Whistle Stop Tour, Travis Blacker, one of our dedicated staff members, represents IPC in eastern Idaho. The Industry Relations Director position was established six years ago and has enabled IPC to more easily share updates on its marketing programs, demonstrate how funds are being used, and most importantly, listen and respond to industry issues and concerns including those regarding sustainability, Good Agricultural Programs (GAP), etc.

Travis also oversees three committees that focus on different aspects of the industry:

• Agriculture Affairs Committee

Committee Mission: Provide input on many issues relating to farming practices including, but not limited to, environmental, legislative and regulatory and immigration and labor.  The committee also provides guidance on GAP and sustainability programs.

• Marketing Committee

Committee Mission: Provide input on the overall marketing of fresh and processed potato products that are sold domestically and internationally.

•Research and Education Committee

Committee Mission: Provide input on basic research funding for industry identified priorities including disease management, variety improvement and development, pest resistance, integrated pest management and input management.

These committees provide a forum for discussion and idea exchange, and they offer a unique venue for developing leadership within the industry. Many committee members go on to serve in national organizations such as the United States Potato Board and the National Potato Council.

The entire IPC staff is always available to answer questions and provide information concerning its programs to support Idaho potatoes. Additionally if anyone is interested in joining one of our committees, please contact Travis Blacker at

On behalf of the IPC staff, we sincerely appreciate your ongoing support.