July/August 2017
Spudman7: Buzz Shahan

Buzz Shahan left production agriculture in 2006 to join United Potato Growers of America.

Buzz Shahan grew up on a cotton/potato farm in Queen Creek, Arizona. After attending Arizona State University for two years, he transferred to Brigham Young University, graduating with a degree in animal science and agronomy. One year after graduation, he and wife Susan purchased a farm in Idaho where he grew 15 crops of seed potatoes.

Returning to Arizona, he managed and/or grew 20 more potato crops. Shahan left production agriculture in 2006, joining United Potato Growers of America (UPGA) when it decided to open a national office. Transitioning from being a grower to understanding just what makes a healthy and sustainable potato market has been a revealing and rewarding process for Shahan.

What are the best words of advice you’ve received?

From my father, Emory Shahan: When you work hard and tell the truth, things work out best.

What are your goals for the next 12 months?

We at UPGA hope to convince potato growers that, with demand stagnant, it is supply that makes the market.

What job or work would you have pursued if you had not become involved in the potato industry?

Growing up on a farm. Farming is all that I thought about growing up. If not potatoes, who knows which other crop it would have been?

What do you do to relax?

What do you do to relax? Golf and team roping are hobbies that require sufficient concentration. The rest of the world disappears during the moments you engage in either one of these, at least at a level deep enough to excel at either one.

What would you like to be your lasting legacy?

That I worked hard, told the truth, and was a good guy.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

  • Help potato-farming families by convincing them that they control their financial destiny by matching supply to demand.
  • Visit my ancestral homeland of Ireland and see the actual landscape of my ancestors.
  • Live forever, which, so far, is working out as planned.

What is the one truth you’ve learned about the produce processing industry?

Sitting behind a potato market analytics desk rather than in a tractor seat, one observes the supply/price metrics that determine crop profitability. While not rocket science, it is science, science that can either lead to prosperity or to something less.

75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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