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INDUSTRY NEWS
Chris Boerboom has been appointed the director of North Dakota State University Extension Service. Boerboom served as interim Extension director....
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The J.R. Simplot Company and ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston have issued advisories to their contract potato growers in the Columbia Basin...
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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced USDA has made substantial, year-over-year gains in expanding credit opportunities for farmers and ranchers...
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APRE

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INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT
APRE celebrates one-year anniversary

The Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE) will celebrate its one-year anniversary on June 20.

We caught up with Maureen Storey, APRE president and CEO, one day after she returned from giving a presentation on the global obesity crisis at the World Potato Congress (WPC) in Edinburgh, Scotland.

It’s been a busy and productive inaugural year for Storey as she leads APRE in its development into a leader in science-based research on nutrition and diet in the potato industry. She is enthusiastic — not only about progress during the past year, but of APRE’s future potential.

“What could be more fun than developing a new organization and setting its path and tone for the future?” Storey asked. “I think that APRE has even greater potential than I saw last year and I think there is greater potential for expanding out even globally.”

Storey’s recent presentation at the WPC gives APRE a toehold in the international sphere of potato industry research.

“I think science really travels worldwide,” Storey said. “There are opportunities for the alliance to work with colleagues around the world to help make sure that the science on potatoes and potatoes in all forms gets out to everybody.”

Through her travels, Storey has found health professionals, scientists and nutritionists receptive to the message she brings.

“One of the things that APRE is trying to do is to share the science, because when I’ve done that, people’s reaction is, ‘Wow, I did not know that,’” she said. “And that’s very important to set the record straight.”

APRE membership is currently composed of five potato processors — McCain Foods, J.R. Simplot, ConAgra Lamb-Weston, Cavendish and Heinz — along with the National Potato Council and the United States Potato Board grower groups. Storey said she is working to expand APRE’s membership by reaching out to other organizations including quick service restaurants and associated industries.

The biggest obstacle to recruiting additional members, though, is the relative newness of APRE and resulting anonymity within the food industry, Storey explained.

“It’s a tough road,” Storey said. “As a new organization, you want to have enough activity in your tool belt so that you can attract other organizations. The other allied industries want to understand what programs you have before they want to sign up.”

June 20 represents not only APRE’s first anniversary, but the hoped-for debut of its website. That will also expand the organization’s reach and visibility.

“Launching a website from scratch is a bigger initiative than I had ever imagined,” Storey said. “As a science-based organization, you need to be extraordinarily careful in what you put out there, because you want everything to be right.”

Over the past year, APRE has awarded a number of unrestricted grants. One was with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) for its “Kids Eat Right” program. AND awarded 50 grants for dieticians to make presentations in their communities on the importance of family mealtime.

APRE also has partnered with the USDA in the “MyPlate: Make Half Your Plate Fruits and Vegetables” promotion as well as helping to emphasize portion sizes that fit individual lifestyles.

In addition, APRE has provided a grant to Purdue University for a forum to be held later this month on the nutritional value of white vegetables.

Along the way, Storey said her travels have brought home the fact that potatoes are universally viewed as an enjoyable and necessary part of a regular diet.

“No matter where I go, people love potatoes and they love to love potatoes,” Storey said. “So I think when presented with science, it is almost like there’s a sigh of relief that it’s OK to really like potatoes.”

Volm
MARKET REPORT
Increased acreage could mean surplus in fresh and process sectors

A recent edition of Bruce Huffaker’s North American Potato Market News (NAPMN) report advises the industry to “develop contingency plans” for up to an additional 40 million cwt of potatoes that the industry may have to accommodate in the marketplace from the 2012 crop.

Huffaker based his hypothesis on the following: 1) An increase of 40,000 acres planted in potatoes and 2) A return to trend line yields of 373 cwt per acre that could result in 40 million cwt additional potatoes.

NAPMN estimates that processors may have contracted between 20,000 to 25,000 more acres of potatoes than in 2011 to restore depleted inventories. Huffaker calculates that an average yield of 400 cwt per acre would result in an additional 8-10 million cwt of contract potatoes.

Huffaker’s report finds that frozen product usage has been “relatively flat” the past four years.

An even greater concern in the NAPMN report is the possible return to trend yields this year. Even if 2012 acreage remained at last year's numbers, a return to trend yields could result in an additional 25 million cwt.

This year’s planting has been ahead of schedule across the country due to a warm spring. Other than the San Luis Valley, which experienced a frost that affected the first emerging plants, the crop in general continues to be ahead of schedule.

“Now that we’re eight weeks into the growing season, what’s very concerning is that we’ve experienced conditions that lead to minimum trend line and more likely above trend line,” said Jerry Wright, CEO and president of United Potato Growers of America. “We still have a lot of growing season ahead of us and much will center on the actual number of acres planted and how the rest of the growing season plays itself out.”

All eyes will be eagerly anticipating the USDA’s NASS crop production report that comes out on Wednesday, July 11, and will reveal the total acreage of potato acres nationally.
Spudman Survey
Spudnik Harvester

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INDUSTRY INNOVATION
Spudnik introduces new harvester

The Spudnik Equipment Company has launched the new 6640 Harvester for 2012. The 6640 is designed for optimal dirt separation without sacrificing digging speed. The chain drive on the secondary and rear cross has been changed to an S wrap to reduce drop, resulting in less bruising. The side elevator is available in either a 42- or 48-inch width. A wide 60-inch side elevator further cleans the potatoes. The drawbar hitch is 20 inches longer for tighter tractor turn.

To learn more about the Spudnik 6640 Harvester, view a video here.

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