50 for 50: United Potato Growers of America

Published online: May 31, 2021 50 for 50 Mark Klompien, President/CEO, United Potato Growers of America
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Throughout 2021, as part of Potato Grower’s celebration of our 50th year in publication, we will be honoring in our pages and on our website 50 of the potato industry’s most innovative and influential individuals, companies and organizations over the past half-century. This “50 for 50” series will include researchers, salesmen, packers, processors and, of course, plenty of potato growers. A lot of them will be names you’ve heard before. To some, you’ll get a fresh introduction. Regardless, each has had an outsize impact on the U.S. potato industry, and each deserves our thanks and recognition. To view the full roster of “50 for 50” honorees, click here
This article appears in the June 2021 issue of Potato Grower.

United Potato Growers of America was formed in March 2005 under the provisions of the Capper-Volstead Act, as a federated farmer cooperative to build a database and potato market models around supply and demand for fresh potatoes. Through UPGA membership, potato growers are empowered to better understand and act upon demand for their product, and to provide a consistent supply of high-quality potatoes at a fair and reasonable price for everyone, including the consumer.

“United is really the only national potato organization that is solely focused on the grower return side of the equation. Our mission is for our potato grower members to realize a fair return on their product in a long-term and sustainable way,” says Mark Klompien, president and CEO of United. “At our core, we are an information- and data-driven organization. We seek to achieve our mission through modeling of potato markets in a way that allows growers to make better strategic planning decisions. Beyond simply having this data, our work also involves strong communication methods as well as the facilitation of grower-member collaboration.”

United’s founding member and first chairman of the board of directors was Albert Wada of Pingree, Idaho. Albert’s vision for United was something that potato growers across the entire country were able to understand and get behind. This led to significant successes in the industry and the expansion of United to most major potato-producing regions. The current chairman of the board is Brian Bushman of Rosholt, Wis.

Julia Cissel was the first president and CEO of the national organization, followed by Lee Frankel, Jerry Wright and Mark Klompien, who took the reins in 2016.

United members can be found in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas and Wisconsin. Since its creation, United has maintained strong relationships and data-sharing agreements with United Potato Growers of Canada and the Potato Marketing Association of North America (PMANA). Additionally, United and PMANA’s joint program, the United Potato Partners, supports offerings of innovative and productivity-enhancing products to fresh and process potato growers across the country. These national partner companies include AMVAC and Vive Crop Protection.

As an ongoing service to the potato industry, United organizes two annual public conferences: the Potato Business Summit, held in January and typically in conjunction with Potato Expo, and the Crop Transition Conference held in June.

To learn more about United’s mission and services, visit www.unitedpotatousa.com, www.unitedpotatopartners.com or www.PotatoBusinessSummit.com.