(April 15) It’s finally official — potato growers in the Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota have joined Salt Lake City-based United Potato Growers of America.

After months of flip-flopping, valley growers, newly organized as the Red River Valley Fresh Potato Growers Cooperative, have joined United Potato.

The new valley cooperative, incorporated in December, plans to elect a board of directors and officers at its first meeting April 23 in Grafton, N.D.

The cooperative’s vote to join United Potato ends months of back-and-forth in which the valley seemed to be on board, then appeared to shy away.

After signaling its desire to join last summer, then backing off, United Potato approved documents at a growers' conference in December that paved the way for the Red River Valley to become a United Potato member, leaving Maine and Michigan as the only major potato-producing states yet to join the national cooperative.

But a March 21 deadline, by which time the valley co-op had hoped to convince 75% of growers to join, passed without the desired number being reached — and United Potato membership was cast in doubt once again.