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January 2009

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Changes in Leadership

With the inauguration of President-elect Obama Jan. 20 comes a change in leadership for many of the agencies that regulate and monitor the produce industry. This change comes as no surprise to the produce associations in Washington, D.C. – they were preparing for working with a new administration regardless, said Kathy Means, vice president, government relations, for the Produce Marketing Association. “We knew there was going to be a change in the administration,” Means said, adding, “this will be a bigger change than perhaps if McCain had won.” Obama’s first efforts will be to address the economic conditions, but the new administration may be good news for the produce industry as a whole. “When you look at the party affiliations, Democrats have been more for health and nutrition, which bodes well for the industry,” Means said. Some of those opportunities for the industry include passage of key bills…  » Read more

Fresh Potato Sales Up

The decline in potato consumption seen over the last 10 years appears to be leveling off, and retail purchases of potato products are increasing, according to a report released in October by the United Fresh Produce Association. Fruits and vegetables typically track like commodities: As volume goes down, price goes up and vice versa. But the United Fresh data, compiled by the Perishables Group from March 30 through June 28, shows an increase in volume, sales dollars and retail price over the same time in 2007. Potatoes ranked fourth among the Top 10 vegetables sold at retail for weekly dollar sales, following packaged salads, tomatoes and an “other produce” category. Potato products averaged $2,151 a week in sales at each retail location, an increase of more than 10 percent from the same time last year. In terms of volume, potatoes took the top spot, nearly doubling the…  » Read more

Gilbert Farms

Faming and family. For Richard Gilbert the two could not be more intertwined; the words are almost synonymous for this potato farmer and rancher in Grace, Idaho. Gilberts have been breaking the soil in the Gem Valley in southeast Idaho for five generations when including Richard’s sons and daughter. To say that farming is a family affair for Richard Gilbert is a bit of an understatement. His great-grandfather came from England to this southeast Idaho community and Gilberts have been farming this fertile valley ever since. “My whole life,” Richard Gilbert said, when asked how long he’s been a potato farmer. “Basically, my whole life with my dad.” “My dad and my mother started with 160 acres right here,” Gilbert said. “It’s actually the only place I remember living. The house used to be half the size because it used to be a schoolhouse,” Gilbert said, referring…  » Read more

Potato Outlook 2009

Supply and demand. It’s the first law of economics in a free market system. In times of surplus and material overproduction that flood the marketplace and exceed consumer demand, producers will be hard pressed to receive enough compensation or see enough of a return to cover the costs of production. Whether you’re in the industrial or agriculture sector, urban or rural, both business models follow these two basic laws: supply and demand and cost of production and return on investment. When talk turns to forecasting the 2009 agricultural season, “supply and demand” never strays far from the conversation. Key Bank executive Jerold Myler, area executive for commercial and agriculture banking in Idaho, has seen recurring cycles in farming during his 23 years in banking. Myler said the cycles tend to run in two- to three-year patterns, sometimes four- to five-year patterns. Myler, based in Pocatello, said commodity prices…  » Read more
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