With January's month of conferences behind us I can report that I heard relatively good news from most growers for the 2010 season. Not everyone had a good year. Some process growers' stock was undersize, or some growers were hit by psyllid.
I spoke with seed growers whose crops were hit by an early frost or heavy rains prevented them from bringing in their crops. But, overall, the economic health of the industry is stronger at this time than a year ago and the outlook for the coming year has the potential to be a good one. One reason for the positive outlook is rising world grain prices. The general consensus is that potato acreage should/could remain stable while farmers put additional acreage into grain production. Stay tuned, it's all speculation at this point in time.
When speaking of positive outlooks, Justin Dagen is someone who immediately comes to mind. In the short time I've known Justin I've never known him to be down about the state of the industry. He's a person who gladly welcomes the everyday challenges of farming.
In this month's issue we profile Justin. He recently assumed the presidency of the National Potato Council this past January during the national meetings in Las Vegas. He and his wife, Donna, oversee a farming operation in the northwest corner of Minnesota. Dagen Heritage Farms has been in the family for five generations and a fixture in the Red River Valley since 1882.
Finally, we say goodbye to our long-time columnist Lisa Shafel. We will miss Lisa's column, "As the Crow Flies," but wish her all the best and hope she'll come visit occasionally and keep us posted on her and Jimmer's new adventures.