Potatoes USA Annual Meeting is Extremely Productive
The Potatoes USA annual meeting was held March 13 – 16 in Denver Colorado. The first day was dedicated to training the new Board members and meeting with the representatives of the state and national organizations in attendance. The next day was packed with reports from the Research, Finance, Domestic Marketing, Industry Outreach and International Marketing committees. Details from these committee meetings will be provided in future industry updates. That afternoon all Board members also went through communications and message training as part of the new Potatoes USA Ambassador program.
A presentation from John Keeling of the National Potato Council helped the attendees to better understand the policy environment currently unfolding in Washington DC. The actual Board Meeting got underway on the 15th with the swearing in of the 20 new Board members. John Toaspern, CMO at Potatoes USA then presented an update on the markets for U.S. potatoes in 2016. Those slides can be found by clicking here. Mark Klompien the new head of the United Potato Growers of America federated co-op provided an update on the work of UPGA and their thoughts on the supply and demand balance in the U.S. potato industry.
The day was capped off with an announcement from Potatoes USA CEO, Blair Richardson, of the new offensive approach for Potatoes USA that will position potatoes and potato products as a high-performance food. Potatoes provide the carbohydrate, potassium and energy needed to perform at one’s best and are the perfect fuel for athletes and anyone that leads an active lifestyle. Ongoing nutrition research regarding the role of potatoes in an active lifestyle is in process. As those additional findings become available, that information will be integrated into the communications.
John Toaspern and Kim Breshears from the Marketing department provided a topline roadmap on how this effort will be implemented. Activities will kick off this summer under Potatoes USA’s fiscal year 18 program, but will require a long-term focus and commitment. The fulfillment of the opportunity can only be achieved through full industry alignment and engagement. Blair reiterated that changing people’s perceptions that potatoes are fattening to one that they are powerful will not happen overnight and will require serious commitment, but the Potatoes USA leadership believes it can be done and after the presentation the Board members whole heartedly agreed.
The final day of annual meeting was the time for the grower leaders to provide their feedback and direction through the caucus reports from the six regions and elect the new leadership. Outgoing Chairman, Mike Pink, thanked everyone back home (particularly his wife and daughters) who supported him and allowed him to fulfill his duties this past year, as well as his executive committee and the staff for their support and guidance. Mike is very proud of the further evolution of the Potatoes USA programs that occurred during under his leadership. The members then elected John Halverson from the northcentral region as the new Chairman along with the following Executive Committee Members; David Tonso (southcentral), Jason Davenport (southwest), Marty Meyers, Doug Poe, Jerry Tominaga & Dan Moss (northwest), Jay LaJoie (northeast), Phil Hickman (southeast) and Steve Gangwish (northcentral).
Presentations from the 2017 Potatoes USA Annual Meeting can be found at PotatoesUSA.com/Growers/Resources under meeting presentations.
About Potatoes USA
Potatoes USA is the marketing organization for the 2,500 commercial potato growers operating in the United States. We promote five main potato products: fresh table-stock potatoes, fresh chipping potatoes, seed potatoes, frozen potato products and dehydrated potato products. The National Potato Promotion Board, dba Potatoes USA, was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Today, as the largest vegetable commodity board, Potatoes USA is proud to be recognized as an innovator in the produce industry. For more information on Potatoes USA’s mission to “Strengthen Demand for U.S. Potatoes” by creating positive change in the industry through innovative and inspiring approaches, please visit PotatoesUSA.com. In an effort to enhance diversity of the Board, USDA encourages women, younger growers, minorities, and people with disabilities to seek positions on the board.