Looking at potato production, marketing and regulatory issues, two dozen potato industry leaders and growers participated in the 2014 Potato Industry Leadership Institute.
The annual program, administered by the National Potato Council and the U.S. Potato Board, consisted of eight days of training and professional development, according to a news release.
The Feb. 20-27 program began in Stevens Point, Wis., where participants heard an overview of both the local and national potato industry.
John Keeling, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the National Potato Council, presented an overview of potato industry public policy issues, while U.S. Potato Board chief marketing officer John Toaspern provided a look at domestic and export markets for potatoes, according to the release.
Participants visited potato growing and processing operations throughout Wisconsin, including Heartland Farms, Okray Family Farms and the Hancock Ag Research Station Storage Facility, according to the release.
The group traveled to Washington, D.C., for sessions on lobbying, media training and business etiquette.
The interaction between the young leaders, comparing notes on potato production issues, is valuable to members of the group, Keeling said March 4.
“We think that ending up in D.C. and getting to participate with their states in (Capitol) Hill visits is pretty exciting for them,” he said.
At least a third of the class had never been to Washington D.C. before and several were impressed with the interest staff and members of Congress showed in industry issues, Keeling said.
The class also participated in team building exercises, including an the Iron “Potato” Chef Competition, where teams were charged with creating a nutritious, creative, and satisfying meal that included potatoes and ground beef in one hour, according to the release.
Eric Schroeder of Schroeder Bros. Farms Inc., Antigo, Wis., was the group’s “grower-leader,” according to the release.
Schroeder was elected to the position by the 2013 Leadership Institute class. At the end of the leadership week, the 2014 class elected Reid Mattive of Worley Family Farms, Monte Vista, Colo., as the 2015 grower-leader, according to the release.
The Institute is made possible each year through a major sponsorship from Syngenta, according to the release.
Photos of the 2014 leadership program activities are at www.facebook.com/nationalpotatocouncil.