Sweet potatoes marketing business updates

03/19/2014 03:12:00 PM
Jim Offner

Smith also is research coordinator at the Sweet Potato Research Station and the Sweet Potato Foundation seed program.

The Sweet Potato Research Station will host a field day Aug. 7, featuring updates on production, varieties and pest management. More information will be available on the station’s website in coming months.

Mississippi Sweet Potato Council

The Vardaman-based Mississippi Sweet Potato Council is marking its 50th anniversary in 2014, said Benny Graves, executive secretary.

The council was organized in 1964 by grower-shipper J.R. Penick and Chester Hines, extension agent for Mississippi State University, when the business was beginning to evolve into its modern form, Graves said.

“Farming was changing and it was time to get some info shared among farmers how to grow new varieties and grow better,” he said, noting that the council has focused chiefly on promotion, as well as cultural practices and variety development.

Nash Produce

Nashville, N.C.-based Nash Produce is contemplating a possible expansion of its line of packaging to meet growing demands, said Thomas Joyner, president.

There are ongoing efforts in the area of food safety and sustainability, as well, Joyner said, noting that the company already meets all requirements of the Produce Traceability Initiative.

“We continue to work with our growers to make the most environmentally friendly practices and so forth, and we’re trying to make it work for everybody from the growers all the way to consumers and be well pleased with the product,” Joyner said.

U.S. Sweet Potato Council

The U.S. Sweet Potato Council is moving from Columbia, S.C., and is getting a new leader.

“I’m 75, and it’s time to retire,” said Charles Walker, who stepped down as executive secretary Feb. 10.

The council’s board of directors is searching for a permanent successor. Meanwhile, Jamie Earp, a partner in Earp Farms, Houlka, Miss., and president of the Mississippi Sweet Potato Council in Vardaman, is serving as interim executive secretary of the national council.

“Our main focus will remain on education, promotion and lobbying,” Earp said.

The council’s preference is to find a permanent leader from inside the sweet potato industry, but the search committee will consider a candidate from outside, Earp said.



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