July/August 2012
Christmas in July By Bill Schaefer

It’s early summer here in southeast Idaho. Potato fields are in bloom right now. The flowers have such a quiet beauty in their simplicity.

I read that in France, King Louis XVI would wear a potato flower in his buttonhole and Queen Marie Antoinette would wear the flowers as a garland in her hair. Of course that’s back when the potato was considered an exotic plant in Europe.

I don’t want to overstate the facts, but it almost seems like an early Christmas for the potato industry. The news that Mexico has agreed to join the Trans- Pacific Partnership hit the industry like a lightning bolt — a very welcome lightning bolt, that is. I heard from a number of growers who heralded the news as a great opportunity to facilitate more trade between both countries. You’ll want to read John Keeling’s column on Page 33 to get a sense of the potential that could come from this historic agreement.

Speaking of historic, I think the profile of John Probasco is a perfect fit for our July/August issue. The Probascos represent a family steeped in the history of what was once the British colonies and would eventually become the United States. For more than 350 years, 12 generations of Probascos have been growing potatoes. Their roots run deep in the potato industry and that is reflected in John’s past involvement with the United States Potato Board.

I’m going to be hitting the road this summer, with stops in Klamath Falls for the USPB summer meeting and in Denver for the Potato Association of America annual conference. I’ll be posting briefs, photo galleries and videos at and on Spudman’s Facebook page from these meetings as well as at a number of field day seminars I’ll be attending. Stay informed between issues by following us online.

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