Potato marketing business updates

12/02/2011 10:44:00 AM
Coral Beach

Easterday Farms enhances website with videos, photos

Celebrating its first anniversary in the Washington potato deal, Easterday Farms Produce Co. has added extensive content to its website, showcasing potato growing and packing operations in the Columbia River Basin.

The family-owned company jumped into potatoes for the 2010 harvest.

Salesman Mason Garrison said the debut season last year was relatively smooth, but “we learned a lot.”

Video footage and photographs at www.easterdayfarms.com show various features of the growing, harvesting and packing at the high-tech shed.

Robotic arms stack bales in one corner of the 80,000-square-foot facility.

Co-owner Jody Easterday explains on the website the equipment is just one example of the company’s strategy as a long-term, low-cost producer.

Easterday Farms remains focused on wholesale customers, Garrison said.

The company packs in paper bales, mesh bags, corrugated cartons and 2,000-pound totes. Easterday also offers 5-, 8-, 10- and 15-pound poly bags.

IGSA partners with Idaho Food Bank for Thanksgiving boxes

Just in time for Thanksgiving Day meals, the Idaho Grower Shipper Association initiated a partnership with the Idaho Food Bank, donating 40,000 pounds of potatoes and $5,000.

The potatoes were delivered to the food bank’s Pocatello warehouse, where many of them were packed into more than 700 Thanksgiving food boxes for needy people.

Roy Lacey, special assistant to the president of the Idaho Food Bank, said the potatoes would be a special treat for those receiving the food boxes.

He said the food bank used to distribute virtually any kind of food, including packaged snacks, but it has switched focus and now tries to make sure that fresh produce and other healthful items are included in the holiday boxes.

He said the donation from IGSA helped make it possible to fill at least 20% of each box with fresh produce.

Travis Blacker, president of the IGSA, gave credit to the association’s board of directors.

He said the board members decided they wanted the organization to help the community, which resulted in the donation to the food bank.

The association donated another 40,000 pounds of fresh potatoes to the food bank for distribution in December.

NoKota Packers adds staff

Salesman Steve Johnson is enjoying a strong first harvest at NoKota Packers Inc. in Buxton, N.D.

Johnson joined the NoKota staff in July, just a few weeks before NoKota’s first season packing Minnesota potatoes.

In another first this year, NoKota was one of the locations included in a promotional video produced by the North Plains Potato Growers Association in East Grand Forks, Minn.

The association produced two videos, one aimed at consumers and one directed toward retail and foodservice potato buyers. Both videos promote potatoes from the Red River Valley area in North Dakota and Minnesota.

NoKota Packers has links to the videos on its website at www.nokatopackers.com under the “Links” tab.

Specialty crop group launches farm bill site

With more than 120 organizations behind it, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance launched a website in late November dedicated to increasing understanding and awareness of its efforts on the 2012 farm bill.

The alliance is a national coalition representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, tree nuts, nursery plants and other specialty crops. Its new educational website is StrongerAgriculture.org.

The website features downloadable, radio-quality sound bites from industry leaders and news makers, including John Keeling, an alliance co-chairman and chief executive officer for the National Potato Council.

The site also has the alliance’s 2012 Farm Bill policy priorities and recommendations; transcripts of legislation, amendments, testimony and industry comments; and a list of supporting organizations and media contacts.

The alliance website states that specialty crops make up 50% of all U.S. farm-gate value for plant agriculture. Consequently, the alliance contends Congress should increase investments in specialty crops in the 2012 farm bill.

USDA scientist shares tips on zebra chip

A recent finding of zebra chip disease in the country’s top potato-producing state of Idaho has further raised interest in methods of controlling potato psyllid because of its role in the transmission of the disease.

In November, Joe Munyaneza, a research entomologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, worked with “Focus on Potato” to create a webcast to provide information about the biology and management of the potato psyllid. The webcast can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/potato-webcast.

The presentation was designed to help growers, consultants and other entities in the potato industry understand how zebra chip disease is spread and how to recognize its symptoms.

Munyaneza, who works out of the Yakima Agricultural Research Laboratory in Wapato, Wash., also covers how to identify potato psyllids in all stages of development and how to monitor and sample for them.

“Focus on Potato” is a publication of the nonprofit group Plant Management Network, which works to improve agriculture and horticulture crops.

Plant Management Network is jointly managed by the American Society of Agronomy, American Phytopathological Society, and Crop Science Society of America.

Recipe contest pushes Wisconsin spuds

A new recipe contest sponsored by the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association dubbed “Warm Up With Wisconsin” sought consumers’ favorite soup and stew concoctions featuring the state’s potatoes.

Wisconsin winters were the inspiration behind the contest, according to Tim Feit, director of promotions and consumer education for the Antigo-based association.

He said nothing warms up a person after a day in the cold north woods better than a hot bowl of soup or stew, so the association decided to solicit consumers’ best warm-up recipes.

Winners are scheduled to be announced Jan. 10, with grocery store gift cards of $150, $100 and $50 going to the top three recipe authors.

The first-place recipe will be featured on free downloadable tear-pads for retailers to display in their potato sections.

Industry meetings on 2012 calendar

Several national and international potato industry events are scheduled in the first half of 2012. Registration is open for:

  • National Potato Council — Public Policy Conference; Feb. 27-March 1; Washington D.C. Contact Hollee Alexander at the council at 202-682-9456 or at hollee@nationalpotatocouncil.org.
  • U.S. Potato Board — Annual meeting; Colorado Springs, Colo.; March 15-16. Contact Robin Vest at the board via e-mail at rvest@uspotatoes.com.
  • World Potato Congress — “Think Global Win Local” May 27-30; Edinburgh, Scotland. Complete details at www.wpc2012.net.



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