Michigan Potato Industry Shines A Light On Spuds At Potato Day At The Capitol

Published online: Jun 11, 2024 Articles
Viewed 325 time(s)

Lansing, MI – Members of the Michigan potato industry welcomed state legislators, their staffs, agricultural industry stakeholders, and the public to Potato Day at the Capitol at the Michigan State Capitol building on June 5.

The purpose was to celebrate and bring awareness to Michigan’s potato sector, which contributes more than $2.5 billion annually to the state’s economy and supports nearly 22,000 jobs, according to a recent study done by Michigan State University economists.

“The event provided an invaluable opportunity to connect with legislators, fostering stronger relationships and open lines of communication,” said Dr. Kelly Turner, executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission (MPIC). “This is crucial for advocating on behalf of Michigan's potato industry and ensuring our concerns and priorities are heard at the state level.

“It was gratifying to highlight the significant economic impact of the potato industry in Michigan. From farming to processing and distribution, potatoes play a vital role in our state's economy, supporting jobs and contributing to local communities.”

Potatoes are consistently ranked atop lists of America’s favorite vegetable. Spuds are excellent sources of vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, and other essential nutrients, such as iron, fiber, and plant-based protein.

“Overall, Potato Day at the Capitol was a wonderful platform to share the story of Michigan potatoes, advocate for our industry's needs, and celebrate the many contributions we make to the state's economy and public health,” Turner said.

While Michigan leads the nation in producing chip potatoes, as detailed later, Michigan farmers also produce all sorts of potatoes for both the fresh and non-chip processing markets. About 20 percent of Michigan’s annual crop goes to the fresh market, including russet potatoes, yellow potatoes, red potatoes, round whites, and specialty varieties, such as fingerlings. In addition, 5 percent of the Michigan crop goes to non-chip processing, such as canned potatoes or deli-prepared sides.

Michigan State University is home to a potato breeding program, headed by Dr. Dave Douches, and a world-class agricultural Extension that supports the potato industry with ongoing research.

“The event also allowed us to showcase Michigan's leadership in potato breeding and sustainability practices. Our state's innovative approaches in these areas not only enhance the quality and yield of our potato crops but also ensure that we are moving toward more sustainable and environmentally friendly farming methods,” Turner said.

Michigan is the eighth-largest potato-producing state in the United States at approximately 1.9 billion pounds of potatoes annually. Michigan ranks first in terms of producing potatoes that support the potato chip industry, as about 70 percent of Michigan’s potato crop goes to the chip industry. In fact, one out of every four bags of potato chips produced in the U.S. is filled with Michigan-grown potatoes.

Michigan potato farmers supply chip makers throughout the nation, however, the state is also home to several chip producers that source Michigan-grown potatoes as often as possible. Several were represented at Potato Day at the Capitol, including Detroit-based Better Made Snack Foods, Great Lakes Potato Chip Co. (Traverse City), and Downey’s Potato Chips (Clarkston).

For more information on the Michigan potato industry, visit www.mipotato.com/NoSmallPotatoes.