April 2022
National Potato Council holds annual Grower Outreach committee meeting By Zeke Jennings

This is a recap from the National Potato Council’s (NPC) 2022 annual meeting, which took place March 1 in Washington, D.C.

Grower Outreach & Industry Research Committee

The NPC launched the “Eye on Potatoes” podcast in January 2020. As of press date, 46 episodes have been published. The guest list has 42 members of the agriculture industry, not just the potato industry, as well as two members of Congress. 

The podcast has served as a means to communicate with members of the potato industry, as well as those outside of the industry. It has received more than 8,400 downloads.

“It’s great for talking about our issues in a long-conversation form. There is only so much you can get into a press release or a column,” said Mark Szymanski, the NPC’s director of communications. Syngenta has become the full-time sponsor of “Eye on Potatoes.” 

Szymanski’s role includes not only working with the media, but communicating with government officials. Quarles cited his efforts in getting potatoes in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program after initial USDA data was inaccurate. Szymanski also monitors the press for inaccuracies on potatoes. 

“Mark is ruthless when a reporter gets something wrong,” Quarles said.

Earned media for the NPC — non-advertising mentions of the organization — went up 9% on potential reach in 2021, led by mentions by Forbes, Yahoo and the Washington Post. Volume of mentions went up 60%, led by Spudman. 

The Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI), which is under the Potato LEAF, returned in 2022 after being canceled in 2021. To date, 360 people from 24 states have gone through the program, led by 73 from Idaho, 59 from Washington and 46 from Colorado.

“We think its benefits are going to echo long into the future,” Quarles said.

The Potato Research Advisory Committee (PRAC) recently wrapped up its window for research projects for consideration to submit for federal funding. The Alliance for Potato Research & Education (APRE) is preparing for when the USDA’s starts soliciting research for the next round of Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

Dean Gibson, of Magic Valley Produce in Idaho, is the newest member of the NPC’s executive committee as the VP of the outreach and research committee.

RELATED: Potato Expo 2022 stays close to budget in spite of COVID, weather problems

Top photo: Jared Balcom, left, 2022 National Potato Council president, speaks as RJ Andrus, VP of Legislative Affairs listens during the NPC’s 2022 annual meeting in Washington, D.C. Photo: Bill Schaefer Photography

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