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United Potato Growers of Canada Formed

Grower representatives from the major potato producing provinces met in Toronto and approved the formation of a new organization, United Potato Growers of Canada. The new corporation will focus on improving the marketing of potatoes through the development of better market information and analysis and stronger communications and cooperation among grower organizations across the country and with its sister organization, United Potato Growers of America (UPGA).

During the formation meeting, Prince Edward Island (PEI), New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta agreed to join United Potato Growers of Canada. These provinces represent a strong majority of Canadian potato production – 82.8 percent of all plantings in 2005. Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia have also participated in steering committee meetings leading up to the formation and are seeking further direction from their respective grower groups. If they decide to join, United Potato Growers of Canada will represent more than 98 percent of Canadian production.

"We clearly see the need to work together to ensure the potato crops we produce are in line with what the market demands," said Garry Sloik, steering committee co-chairman of Manitoba. "As part of this, we will share information between areas across the country and analyze where the data gaps currently exist. We hope to work with partners across the country and in the United States to find ways of addressing those gaps so that potato farmers can obtain a reasonable return for their crops each year."

“United Potato Growers of America is pleased with the formation of United Potato Growers of Canada,” said Albert Wada, chairman of the UPGA board. “This new organization builds on the cooperation that has been underway between growers on both sides of the border since UPGA was formed in March of 2005.”

Wada and Julia Cissel, the new UPGA chief executive officer, attended the meeting in Toronto to report on the 2006 crop management plans for UPGA members in the United States.

During the meeting, United Potato Growers of Canada and UPGA agreed to work on the development of a North American Potato Cooperation Agreement to formalize the collaboration between the two organizations.

"We appreciate the tremendous leadership shown by United Potato Growers of America's Chairman Albert Wada and his board of directors," said Ivan Noonan, steering committee co-chairman from PEI. "They started the drive to bring supply more in line with demand in order to improve grower returns and decrease surplus production. Canadian growers also understood that message and reduced plantings by 34,200 acres or 8 percent in 2005. Prices have strengthened across North America, and we need to work together through United of Canada to make sure we understand and meet the needs of all our markets for 2006 and beyond. Our goal is to make sure that our processors, retailers, food service and other customers have the supply they need, while avoiding surplus production."

The first board of directors and executive for United of Canada will be chosen in the next few weeks. The 2006 marketing plan will be discussed further at that time.

Originally posted Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006

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