2020 Spudwoman of the Year Britt Raybould
Britt Raybould broke new ground in two ways for the National Potato Council this year.
In January, Raybould was elected as president of the NPC’s executive committee, making her the first female to hold that title in the council’s 72-year history.
The other first Raybould achieved actually is a little more special to her because it involves family. Britt’s election makes the Raybould family the first to have three NPC presidents from three generations. Dell Raybould (Britt’s grandfather) and Jeff Raybould (Britt’s father) held the position previously.
As active as Britt is in furthering potato industry interests on a national level, she’s even more active in her home state of Idaho. Raybould is the chief financial officer at the family farm just north of Rexburg — Raybould Brothers Farms — and in 2018 she was elected to represent District 34B in the Idaho House of Representatives, a seat vacated by Dell Raybould when he retired.
For her work in Rexburg, Boise and Washington, D.C., Britt Raybould has been named the 2020 Spudwoman of the Year sponsored by Lockwood Equipment.
“This industry has always had men and women who were equally responsible for the success of their operations. I happened to be in a position where I could step up and participate in this way,” Raybould said of becoming NPC president. “I’m in a more visible leadership role now, so I can’t ignore that, but I’m also the first (NPC president) to represent a third generation. I’m really proud of that fact that I get to follow in their footsteps and do something that was important to them.”
Not unlike many in agriculture, Raybould comes from a farming family, so the perspective of a food producer was part of her upbringing. As a publicly elected official and member of the Idaho Congress, she also has first-hand experience in policymaking.
In addition to serving herself after seeing her grandfather serve in the Idaho House, Britt also worked in Gov. Dirk Kempthorne’s office as an intern in 2001. She also worked in corporate marketing during and after college.
NPC CEO Kam Quarles said Raybould is very meticulous when it comes to processing information and that serves her well.
“She doesn’t shoot from the hip,” Quarles said. “She takes a very thoughtful approach to all of these issues that we’re grappling with. You can see her sort of methodically walking through every piece of the puzzle in order to get to the right decision, and that’s something that helps her a lot in policymaking beyond just agriculture.
“She also has the financial background, so that’s another feather in her cap.”
Raybould works with the Rexburg Civic Club, including organizing the spelling bee, and is an active member of church women’s programs and other church-sponsored activities and groups, as well as local and regional Republican political committees. She has also served as chair of the Idaho Potato Commission’s Ag Affairs Committee and is a current board member.
As involved as Raybould is in politics, potato industry and community organizations, being a participant leader in school wasn’t something she did.
“The first race I ever ran was for class treasurer in seventh grade, and I lost. The lesson I took out of it was not to be afraid to use candy when one is campaigning,” she quipped. “In terms of student government, I really didn’t participate in those activities. It came more once I had gotten through school and out of college when there were more organizations available.”
The hard work, long hours and risk Raybould saw her father endure as a farmer when she was growing up left a lasting impression. That is evident in how much she demands of herself now. In addition to her responsibilities at the farm, in politics and the community, Raybould still runs the communications and marketing consulting business she started in 2007, titled Write Bold.
“During the summers, my dad left early in the morning, we might see him at lunch, and then he’d come home after we went to bed,” Raybould said on her website. “Every year you went into the fields, you gambled that Mother Nature would cooperate and that a market would exist for the crops you produced. When it comes to business, few professions are as risky as farming.
“The risks aside, I loved spending time with my dad. He’d take me with him early in the morning when he checked irrigation pivots. During planting and harvesting, I could ride with him in the tractor. It was a good life, but I didn’t understand fully how hard my parents worked until I saw how little other people worked, a lesson that sticks with me today.”
PHOTO GALLERY: 2020 Spudwoman of the Year Britt Raybould
At the farm, Raybould oversees employee training, IT, food safety programs and, as CFO, handles all the bookkeeping, of course.
“Britt developed all of the current protocols for employee training and food safety,” Jeff Raybould said. “Britt has been at the forefront of developing policy for the NPC, including revising and updating Resolutions and General policy. … In state government, she has sponsored legislation to support agriculture, including the potato industry. She has been innovative in finding ways to support and improve education, the environment and technology for the state.”
As NPC president, Raybould is already making an impact. She had a key role in a rally outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C. during the Potato Fly-In, when NPC leaders and members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged the Senate to create and pass a bill to tackle agriculture labor reform.
“That was an unusual event and she really embraced it,” Quarles said. “That included five members of Congress and Britt was the kickoff speaker.”
Raybould said her goal as NPC president is to advance the council’s mission for the industry, but also within the industry.
“Achieving that goal means ensuring that everyone feels like they have a seat at the table,” she said. “That includes people who have been participants or members of NPC for a number of years and those who have maybe held off participating because they felt like they couldn’t be at every single meeting.
“I don’t care if you can only be at one meeting a year. I still want to see you there. I still want you to feel like you can participate.”
The Britt Raybould File
- Job: Chief financial officer at Raybould Brothers Farms
- Hometown: St. Anthony, Idaho
- Family: Grandparents Dell and Vera Raybould, parents Jeff and Vickie Raybould, brother Jaren, sister-in-law Whitney and nieces Naomi and Adalyn. Jaren Raybould recently took an industry leadership role, as he was elected to serve on the board of Potatoes USA.
- Education: B.A., Boise State University and master’s in communications, Westminster College
- Organizations: Member, Idaho House of Representatives; President, National Potato Council; Rexburg, Idaho Civic Club, Madison County Youth Committeeperson; former committee member of Idaho Potato Commission’s Agriculture Affairs board.
- Hobby: Raybould is an avid reader. “It really doesn’t matter the topic. I read across all genres. I really just enjoy having that time to reflect on something else and lose myself in a book.”
- Favorite way to eat potatoes: “It’s kind of a tie. My mom makes these really fantastic mashed potatoes, just as long as there’s gravy to go along, I’m a huge fan. I’m also partial to funeral potatoes. They do a nice job of being creamy, crispy and cheesy all at the same time.”
Spudwoman of the Year sponsored by Lockwood Equipment
- 2019: Alison Sklarcyzk, Sklarcyzk Seed Farm
- 2018: Melanie Wickham, Empire State Potato Growers (now retired)
- 2017: Addie Waxman, 1,4GROUP (now with McCain Foods)