Apr 2, 2024
New members join Michigan Seed Potato Advisory Committee

Two new members have been appointed to the Michigan Seed Potato Advisory Committee, while three members have been reappointed.

Each appointee serves a three-year term beginning April 1. The committee, appointed by Tim Boring, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD), advises the director on matters including whether to plant uncertified seed potatoes, according to a news release from the department.

The committee consists of two commercial potato growers who do not grow seed potatoes, the current chair of the Michigan Seed Potato Association (MSPA), one person employed by Michigan State University (MSU), and one person employed by the department.

The two new members are:

  • Elizabeth Dorman represents MDARD. Dorman is the department’s Plant Pathology laboratory manager within the Pesticide and Plant Pest Management Division. Dorman obtained a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology/botany and a master’s in plant pathology from MSU. She has been employed with MDARD in a variety of roles since 2003 and is a member of the National Plant Diagnostic Network and National Clean Plant Network.
  • Bryan Fischer represents MSPA. Fischer is the association’s chair and president as well as a seed potato grower for Iott Seed Farm. Fischer operates 1800 acres of farmland, including 600 acres of seed potatoes.

The three reappointed members are:

  • Tim Kunze represents commercial growers. Kunze oversees the central services team supporting all operations at Black Gold Farms in Sturgis, which grows potatoes in eight states. He has farmed for 12 years, growing potatoes and sweet potatoes.
  • Jeff Thorlund represents commercial growers. Thorlund is a grower and owner/operator of Thorland Brothers in Greenville. Thorlund has farmed for 32 years and manages 4,000 acres of potatoes, dry edible beans, corn and wheat. He is also a chipping potato producer and sits on the Potato Growers of Michigan board and the Simplot Grower Advisor Council.
  • Jaime Willbur represents MSU. Willbur is an assistant professor in the Potato and Sugar Beet Pathology Extension and Research Program in MSU’s Department of Plant, Soil and Microbial Sciences. She holds a doctorate in plant pathology from the University of Wisconsin, and a bachelor’s in chemical biology from Lawrence Technological University.  She is a member of the Potato Association of America, American Society of Sugar Beet Pathologists and the American Phytopathological Society.

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