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Bill Schaefer Managing Editor

What will be the biggest issues facing the potato industry in 2012?


1. Labor
2. Governmental Legislation/Regulation
3. Trade
4. Input Costs
5. Supply/Demand


Click here to respond.

Have a different response? Click on Bill's photo above to email your answer.

Agro-Culture Liquid Fertilizers
The National Potato Council's executive committee officers for 2012 were selected in Orlando, Fla. during meetings...
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GME Inc. International, maker of hydrocutters and other food equipment used in the french fry, fruit and vegetable processing industry...
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Food safety in the produce industry continues to be top of mind for consumers and industry leaders in 2012. Recognizing that ensuring consumer...
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Volm Companies
Justin Dagen and Steve Crane

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Justin Dagen hands NPC reins to Steve Crane

It was a changing of the guard at the Potato Expo 2012 in Orlando, Fla., with Justin Dagen's term as National Potato Council president about to end and Steve Crane in line to succeed him.

We sat down for a video interview with Dagen and Crane at the Potato Expo to discuss the state of the industry.

Justin Dagen, a Minnesota grower in the Red River Valley area, said that the past year has been the most fulfilling in his 15 years with the NPC. The successful effort to rescind the USDA's school lunch program proposal to serving limits on potatoes, new free trade agreements with Panama, Colombia and Korea and resolution of the trucking issue with Mexico were among the highlights he cited of his term in office.

Steve Crane, a Maine potato grower in Exeter, hopes to continue the momentum of the past year as he assumes the presidency. His plate is already overflowing with lots of issues to tackle.

Other issues in 2012 include the development of the 2012 Farm Bill. Crane suspects that Congress will emphasize total restructuring of crop insurance. Other issues on the 2012 horizon include the changing the current restrictions on potatoes in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutritional program along with increasing truck weights to 97,000 pounds through the Highway Reauthorization Bill.

Click here to view the video interview.

Bonus Video: Growing Potatoes Near the Arctic Circle

In February's Spudman columnist Joe Guenthner wrote about growing potatoes near the Arctic Circle in Finland. A video of the entire growing season can be viewed at

Potato EXPO 2012

Click here to view the 2012 Potato EXPO photo gallery.

Potato Expo continues to grow

More than 1,500 growers and industry leaders from across the U.S. and a dozen countries attended the National Potato Council’s fourth annual Potato Expo in Orlando, Fla. The event is the largest gathering of the potato industry in North America.

Attendees were able to participate in a variety of education sessions on myriad topics facing the potato industry. Acrylamide, PVY, zebra chip and sustainability were just a few of the issues addressed in the breakout sessions. Keynote speakers included Gordon Bethune, former CEO and chairman of Continental Airlines, and Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida.

A number of the break-out sessions, speeches and interviews were recorded and can be downloaded at as MP3 files.

This year’s Expo also featured 130 companies in its two-and-a-half-day trade show, showcasing cutting-edge technology along with recent innovations and the newest equipment in all sectors of the potato industry.

Vendors at the trade show were extremely happy with the record number of visitors and with the continued expansion of the Expo and trade show. Jim Miller, vice president of sales and marketing for Ag-Pak, said his company has had a booth at every trade show since the inaugural expo in San Antonio, Texas.

“We go to so many shows and it’s hard to tell the return we get, but with this it’s easy to measure,” Miller said. “We can tailor our booth to a specific industry at this show. It’s so focused that in this case we can exhibit just technology that is relevant to potato packers. I wish the other commodities would follow suit.”

Carl Zacharias, of Austin, Manitoba, and Quick-Zip Steel Buildings, has had a booth at the trade show for the past three years and said the trade show gives him time to reconnect with his customers.

“This was our first show,” said Talal Daas, of NorStar Corp., “and we made some very good contacts.” Daas said they experienced high-quality traffic during the trade show.

All three vendors, Miller, Zacharias and Daas, indicated that they would be at next year’s expo in Las Vegas. In fact Daas said that they had already put in their reservation for next year.

To view a photo gallery from Potato Expo 2012 visit and find us on Facebook at

Spudman Survey
Possibility exists for 2012 overproduction

Will market demands from the process sector result in surplus production this coming year despite a possible reduction in fall potato acreage?

Bruce Huffaker outlines conditions for a potential overproduction for 2012 in his North American Potato Market News.

Huffaker cites current shortages in process inventories and the desire by processors and the chip industry to shore up their inventories in 2012 after below average yields in 2010 and 2011. He expects process and chip growers to increase their acres, which could result in overproduction that could spill into the fresh market resulting in surplus supply and decreased ROI.

Huffaker's report said that early indicators show a slight reduction in the fall potato acreage of 2.1 percent but that decrease may not be enough to counter the potential effect from increased acres by the process and chip sectors. Huffaker said that should the responsibility to cut acres fall solely on fresh growers he calculates that they would need to reduce their acreage by 8.4 percent.

Valley Irrigation

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Valley Irrigation

Valley Irrigation has introduced its Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) to its control technology product line. Valley's TPMS is the first product in the mechanized irrigation market to monitor tire pressure on center pivot irrigation equipment.

The Valley TPMS was developed in response to a need identified by the Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI). With more than 10,000 tires and wheel gearboxes in their operation, NAPI needed a way to monitor for low tire pressure without having to constantly replace parts.

"Detecting a low tire before it fails decreases downtime of the pivot during the peak irrigation season, when irrigating is critical to maximizing yields," said Anthony Valdez, irrigation manager, NAPI. "The ability to identify low pressure warnings in the tires has really helped to reduce service costs. With the tire pressure monitoring system, we can now preempt labor and fuel costs, as well as time, by knowing when a tire is low."

Valley's TPMS was cited at the 2012 World Ag Expo with a Top 10 new products award. With the TPMS the exact location of a flat tire can be identified at the Valley Pro2 control panel or remotely with the Valley BaseStation2.

For more information, visit

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