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January 2014

January 2014

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Taking Stock: Looking Forward

There are those days when I feel I’ve seen it all before. Life is just a series of repetitions. Some call it déjà vu. Then there are days when life is a continuous adventure of discovery. With every issue of Spudman, we deliver the latest news and discoveries of the potato world to your mailbox or downloaded to your computer. With this issue, the first of 2014, we re-discover the rewards of  hard work and innovation in Dianna Troyer’s profile of R & G Potatoes. Garn Theobald and Ray DeRoche started R&G in 1977. At that time they were shipping 80,000 cwt. This past year they shipped 3.5 million cwt. Ray retired in 1991 and Steve Theobald joined his brother in the American Falls, Idaho office. It’s a story of perseverance and preparation and of being in the right place at the right time. A…  » Read more
Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow

With fall harvest in full stride for R&G Potato Company, a rainbow arched over the company’s offices near American Falls in southeastern Idaho on a mid-September morning. Glancing out the window of the office board room at the drizzle mingling with golden morning sunshine, Garn Theobald, chairman of the board of corporate operations, couldn’t help but grin at the timing of the symbol of hope and prosperity as he was preparing for retirement. With nearly four decades of persistence and flexibility, Garn, 62, has weathered unpredictable tempests and basked in good fortune as the company expanded beyond Idaho to Arizona and New Mexico. He has helped guide R&G to become one of Frito-Lay’s largest North American suppliers of round white chipping potato varieties. “At first, it was hard to persuade some farmers to even grow these,” Garn said. Garn and the late Ray DeRoche formed…  » Read more
Cautious Optimism

Cautious Optimism

Looking back over my first five months with the United States Potato Board (USPB), one of the more impressive things about this industry is how well it works together on many important issues, such as market access. The cooperation between the National Potato Council (NPC), U.S. government agencies, state potato grower organizations and the USPB is remarkable. The benefits of this cooperation to U.S. growers in terms of increased access to international markets are substantial and vital to the future growth in demand for our products. An example of what can be achieved through this cooperative network is the recent progress toward the real possibility of increased access for U.S. fresh potatoes to Mexico. While there are no guarantees, this is a perfect example of the successes achieved by the industry by working together towards the same objective. When this access does occur, the opportunity…  » Read more
The Innate Strategy

The Innate Strategy

Whether you call it biotechnology or GMO there’s no arguing the fact that Simplot has made a major investment in the future of variety development with their first generation of Innate potatoes of Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic varieties. Through gene silencing, or RNA interference, Simplot’s new Innate varieties have three significant traits to benefit the potato industry. The first is reduced black spot from bruising, the second is reduced asparagine, which reduces the potential for formation of acrylamide and the third is reduced sugars, thereby providing processors with a consistent golden french fry. The public comment period for Simplot’s Innate potatoes ended on July 2, 2013, but comments, both pro and con about Simplot’s investment in the field of genetically engineered potatoes, continue to roil the potato industry. Many growers have not forgotten the consumer and international backlash from Monsanto’s NewLeaf GMO potato…  » Read more

Investing in the Future

An investment in the future of the potato industry is how John Keeling likens the National Potato Council’s (NPC) academic scholarship. Both the NPC and Syngenta have made annual scholarship awards specific to the potato industry this past year. Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the NPC, said that the NPC is “proud to invest in graduate-level students who not only have a passion for agriculture but have the talents to advance the potato industry. By helping grad students afford their tuition, NPC is putting a down payment on tomorrow’s industry leaders.” NPC’s $10,000 academic scholarship for 2013-2014 was presented to Rhett Spear, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Horticulture at Washington State University (WSU). Spear is just completing a three-year research project that has focused on identifying new fresh-pack varieties as alternatives to Russet Norkotah. The Russet Norkotah is currently the leading…  » Read more

National Potato Council: A Call for Consistency

Since the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011, the ag world has been bracing for a flood of new FDA rules governing the way agricultural products are produced, shipped and sold. Earlier this year, the FDA unveiled two sets of proposals, the Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing and Holding Produce for Human Consumption (commonly referred to as the Produce Rule) and the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls for Human Food (or the Preventive Controls Rule), that would affect the U.S. potato supply chain. Prior to the close of the public comment period in November, the National Potato Council took the opportunity to urge the FDA to revise the rules to better reflect the real-world experience of how potatoes are grown, shipped and consumed, while ensuring the regulations…  » Read more
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