William Schaefer, Idaho editor, reports from the Idaho Potato Conference, Jan. 21-22, in Pocatello.
The 41st Annual Potato Conference opened Wednesday, Jan. 21, in the Pond Student Union on the Idaho State University campus. During the conference and expo I saw a number of growers and researchers that I have interviewed over the past 12 months since becoming Spudman's Idaho editor, and everyone I spoke to about the upcoming season were non-committal when asked to predict how the season would play out. I think the economy has everyone holding their collective pocketbooks and waiting to see what measures the new administration takes. The growers I spoke to about the new Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, seem to approve the choice, but there's still a wait-and-see attitude.
The big buzz word at the conference was sustainability. The Wednesday mid-morning seminar by John Keeling of the National Potato Council and Joe Browde of the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance filled the Bengal Auditorium. Keeling opened the seminar discussing the qualities of what sustainability will mean to growers, while admitting that they are still working on defining what is sustainability.
I think what Keeling was telling growers is that the bottom line of sustainability is better growing practices and sharing grower knowledge while incorporating modern business practices out in the field. I'll have a lot more on this issue in the March Spudman.
During the conference some of our readers would stop by the Spudman booth to comment on our publication and I received an earful of comments, both good and some not so good regarding stories I've written or stories I should be writing. I appreciated all the comments and encourage any of our readers to send me an e-mail if there's a story out there you think needs to be told.– William Schaefer, Idaho Editor, Spudman
William Schaefer, the Idaho editor Spudman magazine, is attending the Idaho Potato Conference Jan. 20-22. He'll bring you the latest insights and information from the show floor. Check back for regular updates and in the March issue of Spudman for a recap of the conference and trade show.
Here's what a few people had to say.How's the economy affecting equipment sales?
"Selling equipment is off from what it was last year. Just because the commodity prices are down and the economy has everyone scared just a little bit. I think it's going to be a little flatter then last year but it will still be a good year."–
Wendel Curtis, sales rep., Pioneer Equipment, Idaho Falls
What do you think of Tom Vilsack, the new Secretary of Agriculture, and what issues need to be addressed?
"He should be good. He's from Iowa. I would think he would have a little savvy. We're going to have to have a good labor source. What I'm hearing is labor is going up a lot. We're going to be in the same boat as car dealers –
we can't afford the labor."–
Ryan Neibaur, farmer, Idaho Falls
What impact will high interest rates have on agricultural financing?
"Availability of financing for ag equipment and storage units and production lines, we have availability for that. Even though the prime has come down some of our other costs are still there. So, they haven't come down accordingly. Interest rates have moderated to some degree but they haven't dropped as dramatically as some people would have liked to have seen or expected, maybe. I think, they are pretty stable, I'm talking commercial rates."–
Greg Anderson, commercial loan officer, Bank of Idaho Commercial
– William Schaefer, Idaho Editor, Spudman