Getting down to business…
I can't believe that winter is behind us, but it's a fact that planting is underway in the Columbia Basin and the dirt will be flying soon throughout southeast Idaho and the rest of the northern states.
I just returned from three days in Washington, D.C., at the National Potato Council's Potato D.C. Fly-In. I came away equally impressed with the combined efforts of potato growers from all over the country taking the industry's issues to their Congressional representatives and with the senators, representatives and federal policy makers who spoke on these issues during two days of presentations.
Coming to Washington was an interesting mix of veteran potato growers as well as members from the Potato Industry Leadership Institute. It's a great opportunity for growers to lobby their Congressional representatives as well as develop the skills necessary to lead the industry into the future.
You can see photo galleries from the Fly-In and a video interview of John Keeling, NPC executive vice president and CEO, at Spudman.com.
This month's profile is of Steve Crane from Exeter, Maine. He is the current president of the NPC, replacing Justin Dagen this past January. Steve is a typical Maine potato farmer. Unassuming and a bit reticent when talking about himself, he's all business when it comes to farming and representing the potato industry. Also, Steve has written this month's NPC column on the Fly-In, so you can read his perspective on the importance of taking the industry's message to Capitol Hill.
We have some really informative articles in this month's issue, from Dennis Johnson on white mold to one on psyllid control from Alan Schreiber, Andy Jensen and Silvia Rondon. Additionally, check out the article by Phil Hamm and Silvia Rondon on zebra chip in the Columbia Basin in 2011 that's online with the other articles from this issue, for which I have more information than pages. Psyllids and zebra chip are important factors for the 2012 season, and I'm trying to get as much information as possible out to growers.
I end this column with a sad postscript. Dan Crawford, founder of Spudman, died Feb. 20 at 89. I was fortunate to meet and interview him this past September in connection with Spudman's 50-year anniversary. For a couple of hours, Dan entertained and regaled me with his memories of starting Spudman. He was a character to the end, and it was an afternoon I will never forget.
Read the profile of Dan from the January issue or view a video interview with Dan by visiting Spudman.com.
Thanks, Dan, for not giving up on your vision.
--Bill Schaefer, Managing Editor