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Building a Championship Team

I was never a huge college basketball fan, despite being around some excellent teams. Growing up in Michigan, I remember the years University of Michigan and Michigan State University won the NCAA tournament, and when I lived in Kentucky that state university’s basketball program was still good.

But I didn’t go to any of those universities, and had no connection besides living in the state they get their name and funding from. It wasn’t until I was enrolled at the University of Kansas that I really saw how exciting college athletics are – and there aren’t many programs that get as excited about basketball as Kansas fans. For once, I was part of a community that would rally around an idea – and although true fans may criticize the team when it’s doing poorly, they’ll be the first to defend it to outsiders.

Suffering through the bad years – getting knocked out in the first round of the tournament two years in a row – makes the good years even better, like winning the championship this season.

That same sense of community is present in the potato industry. For years, profits were slim or nonexistent, but potato growers were the first to defend their product and look for a way to make profits instead of looking for government bailouts. And those growers that stayed in the industry are celebrating more profitable seasons and a leveling off of the decline in consumption.

New marketing initiatives, expanded export opportunities and innovative packaging and product development have allowed growers to rally around the potato once again. Cooperation and communication among states, businesses and segments of the industry will grow profits for everyone, even with question marks like rising fuel and fertilizer prices.

And just as a college basketball team changes every season, so does the industry, and we welcome new members. Spudman would like to introduce the newest member of the team, William Schaefer, as the Idaho Editor. Schaefer will provide news and feature articles from that state each month and we welcome him to the magazine.

Originally posted Thursday, Apr. 24, 2008

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