Dominic LaJoie Elected NPC President

Courtesy St. John Valley Times Growing up on his father’s potato farm in Cyr Plantation, Dominic LaJoie said he never could have imagined the size his family’s company, LaJoie Growers LLC, would reach. He also never planned on getting into politics.  Nonetheless, the National Potato Council elected LaJoie, a fourth-generation St. John Valley potato farmer, […]

2020 Celebrated Record Sales for Potatoes at Retail

Total potato sales at retail were at five-year record highs for both dollar and volume sales in 2020. Dollar sales increased by 16% compared to 2019 and all categories, except deli-prepared sides, grew by double-digit dollar sales. Dehydrated potatoes recorded the highest sales increases in dollars by 30% and volume sales by 25%. Canned and […]

NPC, Agriculture Industry Groups Raise Alarm on U.S.-Mexico Trade Relationship

Deteriorating relationship impacting competitiveness of U.S. agriculture The National Potato Council and 26 leading food and agriculture associations sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Thomas Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on March 23 communicating growing concerns over the rapid deterioration of the U.S.-Mexico trade relationship. The letter calls attention to alarming recent developments […]

Senators Bennet and Crapo Maintain Momentum on Ag Labor Reform

Moments after the House action on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Mike Crapo (R-ID) released a joint statement announcing they will introduce companion legislation in the U.S. Senate. “We applaud our colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives — on both sides of the aisle — for their work on […]

2020 Post Harvest Testing Completed

Andrew Plant has shared final results. The Maine Seed Potato Certification’s 2020 Post Harvest Test was completed in January.  This marks the third crop in which the test was completed entirely in its Disease Testing Laboratory.  In the laboratory, ELISA is used to serologically test sprout sap to provide infection level estimates for PVY and […]

Evolutions in Potato Breeding

The “art” of plant breeding is ancient. For ages, humankind has sown seeds collected from favored plants, slowly but surely evolving more nutritious, higher-yielding crops. Breeders, such as Luther Burbank, were quite effective in operating within this intuitive world of breeding.   Genetic “science” and the understanding of the transmission of traits is relatively new. Gregor […]

U.S. Potato Exports See Recovery

U.S. potato exports continue to recover but remain behind previous year levels.  Exports for the first six months of the marketing year, July – December 2020, are behind the record levels set in 2019. However, exports for October, November, and December are far less distressed than they were in the July – September period. Frozen […]

Food, Ag, and Rural Aid Included in Latest COVID-19 Relief Bill

After seven hours of deliberation on last Wednesday, the House Agriculture Committee finished marking up the agriculture and nutrition title of the COVID-19 relief bill making its way through Congress. The Committee reported favorably – by a 25-23 vote – to the House Budget Committee its 17-page bill.   Provisions in the package, among other items, include:   Grants and loans to purchase personal protective equipment, […]

NPC Urges Mexico Court to Overturn Ban on US Fresh Potato Imports

Majority of five-member panel must agree during February 24 hearing  WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, the Mexican Supreme Court released a draft ruling that would overturn a 2017 lower court decision preventing the Mexican federal government from implementing regulations to allow for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes throughout the country. The case […]

Can People with Diabetes Eat Potatoes?

People with diabetes have long been told to avoid potatoes because of their high glycemic index (GI) value, however, scientific evidence is building that counters this notion and supports the inclusion of potatoes in a diabetic-friendly diet. New research provides even further insight: a first of its kind study, funded by the Alliance for Potato Research […]

Position Open at Maine Potato Board

The Maine Potato Board has a position open for an agricultural engineer technician.  Agricultural Engineer Technician Introduction: The Agricultural Engineer Technician is responsible for carrying out the duties as outlined by the Executive Director, under the direction of the Maine Potato Board.  The position reports directly to the Agricultural Engineer of the Maine Potato Board.  […]

October – December retail potato sales show continued growth

Record potato retail sales continued from October to December 2020, the second quarter of Potatoes USA’s marketing year 2021.  All three months saw an increase in both dollar and volume sales, with the largest growth in December. Total store potato sales grew 9.3% in volume and 12.3% in value. Prices also increased for consumers by […]

President Signs COVID Relief and Funding Package

After days of uncertainty and threatening a veto, President Trump on Sunday, January 3 signed a year-end government spending bill, which included an additional $900 billion in COVID-19 relief. The package, supported by NPC, includes the Fiscal Year 2021 agriculture appropriations provisions as well as agriculture and nutrition program funding as part of the COVID relief […]

USDA Announces Additional $1.5 Billion in Food Box Purchases

USDA Secretary Perdue announced January 4 that the department will move forward with an additional $1.5 billion worth of food purchases as part of the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Funding for this fifth round of the program was included in the COVID-19 relief package supported by NPC, which was passed and signed into […]

New Institute Alumni Summit Announced at Potato Expo

As part of the Potato Expo preview day, Potato LEAF announced the creation of a new program designed to support graduates of its Potato Industry Leadership Institute. The Institute Alumni Summit, open to past graduates of the Institute, will take place virtually, July 13-15, 2021. Over the three days, the Summit will provide alumni with engaging […]

NPC Applauds Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ Call for Increased Vegetable Consumption

Last week, USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services released the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommends the increased consumption of vegetables for all age groups. The National Potato Council welcomed the recommendations, which support the importance of including nutrient-rich vegetables, including potatoes, in all diets.  “We’re pleased the latest DGA is […]

Virtual Potato Expo 2021 Brings Industry Together Over Potatoes

From January 5-7, more than 1,000 U.S. and international potato industry members joined the first-ever virtual Potato Expo. The annual event that kicks off the year for the industry, was brought online for the first time in response to the travel challenges imposed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges, growers and supply chain […]

NPC Responds to Capitol Hill Violence

While this year’s Potato Expo provided the industry a forum for unity and celebration, we at NPC would be remiss if we were not to begin without addressing the actions that caused our office to be evacuated on Wednesday, January 6, afternoon. On January 6, the nation experienced a day impaired by turmoil as Congress […]

Potato Marketing Improvement Fund

At the January meeting, MPB Executive Director Don Flannery shared an overview of the annual PMIF report which is sent to Governor Janet Mills and ACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. From the time of initial authorization in 1981 through the 2019 fiscal year, the Maine  Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the Maine Potato Board […]

Get Your First Potato Expo 2021 Sneak Peek

The Potato Expo 2021 will be complete with all of the incredible content you have come to expect at the potato industry event of the year! Speakers and sessions are coming together and being posted to potato-expo.com, so check back often.  Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in store for the Breakout Sessions at this year’s […]

DOT Clarifies Hours of Service Rules for Non-Processed Food

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published an interim final rule last week clarifying the definition of “agricultural commodity” for the purposes of the FMCSA’s “Hours of Service” regulations. The Nov. 24 interim final rule, effective Dec. 9, clarifies the terms “agricultural commodity,” “livestock,” and “non-processed food” to ensure that the Hours of Service […]

NPC Urges Congress to Correct Unexpected PPP Tax Burden in Lame Duck

NPC joined 564 national and regional business groups on Thursday calling for Congress to enact legislation before the end of the year that corrects the tax treatment of loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  In a letter to Congressional leadership, the group writes, “At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress responded with speed, cooperation, and […]

NPC Welcomes New House Agriculture Committee Leadership

Last week, NPC welcomed the selections of U.S. Rep. David Scott (GA-13) as the next Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and Rep. Glenn ‘G.T.’ Thompson (PA-15) as Ranking Member.  “Throughout his tenure on the Agriculture Committee, Chairman-elect Scott has been a tireless advocate for our food-insecure citizens. Potato growers look forward to working with him on […]

The Founding of Aroostook Farm

Experiential farming at its best The December issue of Discover Maine magazine focuses on Aroostook and Northern Penobscot Counties. There is a great article by Charles Francis giving the reader a look at the founding of Aroostook Farm.  The article is reprinted in the MPB newsletter by permission.  Maine is an agricultural state. The first […]

Tom Vilsack to Return

NPC Statement on the Nomination of Tom Vilsack as USDA Secretary Potato industry looks forward to a productive relationship with returning Secretary  On December 11, National Potato Council CEO Kam Quarles issued the following statement congratulating Secretary Tom Vilsack on his nomination by President-elect Biden to return to his role as Secretary of the U.S. […]

Register for Potato LEAF “Giving Tuesday” Trivia Event

In celebration of “Giving Tuesday” – the annual global event that encourages people and organizations to help transform their communities and the world through the power of collective giving – we are proud to announce the inaugural Potato LEAF Trivia Event and fundraiser!      Please help us promote among the potato industry in Maine as an […]

Potato Expo 2021 Goes 100% Virtual

In light of on-going developments with COVID-19 and after thoughtful discussions with the Executive Committee and supporting companies, and through feedback via attendee surveys, NPC has decided to hold the Potato Expo 2021 as a Virtual Experience, held exclusively online. The show will take place on Tues., Jan. 5 through Thurs., Jan. 7, 2021. We believe this is the safest […]

Politico Reports on Ongoing Fresh Access Dispute with Mexico

The D.C.-based news outlet Politico featured a detailed report earlier this month on the ongoing challenges with gaining full access to the Mexican market for fresh U.S. potatoes. Politico writes (subscription required) that the failed deal with Mexico has cost the U.S. potato industry “tens of millions in lost sales, while Mexican avocados flooded the U.S. market with […]

Election Update: Presidential Transition

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), who currently Chairs the House Agriculture Nutrition, Oversight and Department Operations Subcommittee, indicated this week she would be open to serving as Secretary of Agriculture in the Biden Administration. A Rep. Fudge spokeswoman said, “Congresswoman Fudge, if asked, would be honored to serve as Secretary of Agriculture in the Biden Administration.” […]

NPC Launches New Website Highlighting Industry Members and Priorities

NPC has released its new website at nationalpotatocouncil.org to better support its mission of “Standing Up for Potatoes on Capitol Hill.”  “This new website is an essential piece of our communications strategy. NPC Communications Director Mark Szymanski spent many hours overseeing our development team and providing input and direction in order to deliver an entirely new look that […]

Supporting Maine’s Farmers and Growing our Agricultural Economy

By: Sen. Susan M. Collins Having been born and raised in Aroostook County, I know how essential agriculture is to our state’s economy and our way of life.  Supporting Maine’s dairy, potato, and special crop industries—such as our wild blueberry growers—has always been one of my top priorities in the Senate. The Maine Farm Bureau […]

Potato LEAF, National Potato Council Announce Program Changes for 2021

The Potato Leadership, Education, and Advancement Foundation (Potato LEAF) Board of Directors announced on November 13 it has decided not to conduct a Potato Industry Leadership Institute class for 2021 given the health and logistical challenges surrounding COVID-19.   The 2021 class was originally scheduled to meet February 17-25, 2021 in Bakersfield, California, and Washington, D.C. A virtual program […]

More than $7 Billion Paid in Second Round of USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that in the first month of the application period, the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) approved more than $7 billion in payments to producers in the second round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. CFAP 2 provides agricultural producers with financial assistance to help absorb some of […]

Support Potato LEAF When You Buy Through Amazon

Now, there are two ways you can support Potato LEAF and the future leaders of our industry. As always, you can make an end-of-year tax-deductible donation as an individual and/or business at pleaf.org. Second, you can make Potato LEAF your charity of choice on AmazonSmile. Then when your family or business makes an eligible purchase through […]

Letter from the Commissioner

Dear Friends: From shifting to online sales to going virtual for Open Farm Day, and from adjusting to socially distanced farmers’ markets to embracing new guidance for U-Pick operations, this has been a year of firsts for Maine agriculture. Farmers are adapting and meeting the challenges presented by the pandemic, and we anticipate that more […]

September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2020 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners that they have a one-time opportunity to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. The deadline is September 30, 2020, to update yields, which are used to calculate the PLC payments for 2020 through 2023. Additionally, […]

NPC Concerns Over DOL Decisions May Impact the Viability of H-2A

On Thursday, September 3,  NPC and the members of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition wrote to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Scalia requesting a review of the department’s recent decisions and policy interpretations that limit the viability of the H-2A program.   The group noted a number of recent decisions by the Department’s H-2A Certifying Officers, […]

NPC Calls on Congress to Restore PPP’s Tax-free Loan Forgiveness

In early September, NPC joined 171 business organizations in calling on Congress to reaffirm its original intent of loan forgiveness under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be tax-free.   The groups write: “When the PPP was adopted as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act, Congress made clear that any […]

Administration Plans To Address Mexican Produce Dumping Concerns

On September 1,  the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Department of Commerce, and USDA released a report detailing the Trump Administration’s plan to address concerns over Mexican exports of seasonal and perishable fruits and vegetables to the United States. The report’s release comes after the three departments held a pair of virtual public hearings […]

Secretary Perdue Says CFAP-2 Is Coming

USDA Secretary Perdue indicated on September 3 that the Department was preparing a new round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) funding.    Secretary Perdue said the department would announce the rules for the second round of payments next week but was clear that that losses by producers after April 15 (the current cut-off date […]

Retail Potato Sales See 32% Increase

Retail potato sales are soaring, increasing 31% in dollar sales and 32% in volume sales between March 16, 2020 and June 14, 2020, according to IRI. All potato categories across the retail store, except deli-prepared sides, increased in dollar and volume sales. The majority of potato categories saw double-digit growth in both dollar sales and […]

COVID Aid Efforts Suffer Setback in Senate

After a week of inter-party wrangling over details, Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) indicated Thursday that the Senate Republicans’ COVID-19 relief proposal will likely be introduced on Monday. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of staff Mark Meadows spent the week negotiating the package with Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY) and other Senate Republicans. The White House and Senate […]

NPC Hosts Virtual Agency Tour

Participants from EPA, USDA, and throughout the potato industry were provided information on pest management related to growing seed and in the pre-plant, planting, in the field, and post-harvest stages. Presenters included growers, extension educators, and researchers from across the country on weeds, bacteria, nematodes, fungi, and insects.   The annual tour was scheduled for the San Luis Valley this […]

House Expected to Pass FY21 Spending Bill

Late last week, the House began consideration of the first FY21 spending minibus, H.R. 7608, which contains the Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, State-Foreign Operations, and Military-Construction bills. The chamber debated and passed by voice vote the ag spending measure, which included a number of amendments. The full appropriations package is expected to pass later in the month.  The approved measure retained $2.75 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) […]

Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Open June 15

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2020 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin accepting nominations for county committee members on Monday, June 15, 2020. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2020 election must […]

“State of the Industry” Meeting to be Broadcast on Facebook Live

The 2020 NPC Summer Meeting will be held as a one day, virtual event on June 25. Summer Meeting VIRTUAL is a free event for all members of the potato industry. But, you MUST PRE-REGISTER to attend. Join from anywhere to connect with the industry, get updates on key issues and to be a part of the conversation.  For more […]

NPC, State Potato Organizations Call for HOS Bill Supporters

In a letter encouraging members of Congress to join on as cosponsors of the legislation, the group notes that “Federal law currently provides an exemption from federal hours-of-service rules for the transportation of agricultural commodities within a 150 air-mile radius from the source of the commodities, during planting and harvesting periods, as determined by the […]

Specialty Crop Producers Underrepresented in CFAP Relief Payouts

House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), and Filemon Vela (D-Texas) wrote to Secretary Perdue this week expressing their concerns with USDA’s design and implementation of the program, noting the challenges faced by specialty crop producers in participating. Among the issues outlined in the letter, they write that […]

Potato Sales, At Retail, See An Increase In Volume

Fresh, frozen, dehydrated, and canned potatoes saw double-digit increases in both dollar and volume sales. Dehydrated potatoes had the largest increase in dollar and volume sales as dollar sales increased by 22% and volume sales increased by 15.2%. Many retailers removed parts of their deli-prepared sections since the beginning of March, contributing to the 4.7% […]

Outlook brighter for Maine’s Potato Industry

By David Marino Jr., The Star-Herald • June 8, 2020           Reprinted by permission Rather than going unsold, many more potatoes from the 2019 crop will end up on plates and trays across the country as restaurant-ready items such as french fries and mashed potatoes. Two months ago, many farmers were left with few […]

NPC Cautions USDA Against Potential Potato Import Surges

The letter states, “As we push toward reopening the economy, it is extremely likely that these surges will become even more intense. For example, prior to the food service shutdown, exports of European fries to the U.S. in the first two months of the year went from $9 million in 2019 to $20 million in […]

Potato Industry Welcomes Huge $50 Million USDA Purchase for Potatoes

“This is very welcome news from Secretary Perdue, Undersecretary Ibach, and the entire team at USDA. Given the size of the crisis involving potatoes, this purchase is a partial down payment on the industry’s overall relief needs and more will be needed. In the short term, the announcement is very positive in that it provides […]

Congratulations, Pam Townsend!

American Agri-Women officials said the group presents the LEAVEN Award to those persons who, to an outstanding degree, have acted as leaven, impacting those around them, multiplying their effectiveness for good. Pam serves on the American Agri-Women Foundation Board and is actively involved at the regional, state and national levels. She is president of the […]

USDA Announces Details of Direct Assistance to Farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Farmers and Ranchers to Receive Direct Support for Losses Related to COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 19, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to deliver relief to America’s farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to this direct support to farmers and ranchers, […]

Recognizing 75 Years of Service and Support

In 1947, the MSPB purchased an isolated farm in Masardis, Maine, now known as the Porter Seed Farm, enabling it to better control and manage the production and quality of foundation seed stock. This facility is equipped with tissue culture production, disease testing laboratories, seed storages with climate control systems, greenhouses, and an irrigation system, […]

NPC Welcomes Ag Benefits in COVID-19 Relief Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Friday afternoon, President Trump signed S. 3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, a $2 trillion bill with significant benefits to the U.S. potato supply chain. This comes a day after the Senate passed by the bill by a 96-0 vote, and later in the day after the House passed […]

“Dirty Dozen” Promotes Fear, Discourages Consumption

“Why continue to perpetuate misinformation and create another barrier to consumption, when you’ve been shown the negative impact it has on consumers,” says Teresa Thorne, Executive Director of the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF).  “With only 1 in 10 Americans eating enough fruits and vegetables each day, we should be promoting consumption to enhance immune […]

Ag and Food Workers Included in “Critical Infrastructure” Guidance

As part of the nation’s efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, on March 16, President Trump issued an updated Coronavirus Guidance for America. This guidance states that, “If you work in a critical infrastructure industry, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, such as healthcare services and pharmaceutical and food supply, you have a […]

USDA Announces Appointments to the National Potato Promotion Board…Congratulations Dan and Jennifer

Last week, USDA announced the appointment of 42 members to serve on the National Potato Promotion Board. The appointees will serve three-year terms from March 1, 2020, through Feb. 28, 2023. Appointed to represent Maine producers are Dan Blackstone and Jennifer Gogan. Congratulations to you both!! Members appointed or reappointed are: Arizona Producer: Greg Hebdon […]

EPA Releases Proposed Interim Decision on Neonicotinoids

This month, EPA released proposed interim decisions for acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. In the proposed interim decisions, EPA is proposing: Management measures to help keep pesticides on the intended target and reduce the amount used on crops associated with potential ecological risks; Requiring the use of additional personal protective equipment to address potential […]

EPA Releases Proposed Interim Decision on Neonicotinoids

This month, EPA released proposed interim decisions for acetamiprid, clothianidin, dinotefuran, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam. In the proposed interim decisions, EPA is proposing: Management measures to help keep pesticides on the intended target and reduce the amount used on crops associated with potential ecological risks; Requiring the use of additional personal protective equipment to address potential […]

House Infrastructure Framework Unveiled

House Democrats, led by Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), and Richard Neal (D-MA)  unveiled the framework for a five-year, $760 billion investment in infrastructure. The framework includes, but is not limited to, repairing existing infrastructure, charting a path toward zero carbon pollution from the transportation sector, expanding broadband access, and improving water and […]

NPC Celebrates President Trump Signing USMCA into Law

NPC cheered last week’s signing of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) trade pact into law by President Trump. The agreement is expected to stabilize the U.S. potato export markets of Canada and Mexico by both eliminating the threat of retaliatory tariffs and precluding the loss of tariff benefits previously provided by NAFTA. “The National Potato Council […]

2019 Crop Post Harvest Testing Report

The 2019 growing season was very similar to what growers experienced in 2017 and 2018 with a cool spring and prolonged dry spells for the rest of the growing season up in Aroostook County.  Southern and Central Maine experienced dry periods similarly. Luckily certain growing areas received rain events later in the season to help […]

Senators Collins, King Announce More than $550,000 for Potato Research Program at the University of Maine

U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced on February 13 that the University of Maine’s (UMaine) Cooperative Extension Potato Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program has been awarded $553,486 to conduct further research on potato breeding in Maine.  This funding was awarded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). […]

NPC Welcomes Year-Round Access for U.S. Chipping Potatoes to Japan

Announcement deepens relationship with largest trading partner Last week, Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (MAFF) informed USDA that U.S. chipping potatoes will be allowed to enter year-round, starting Feb. 14, 2020. Previously, the import protocol for U.S. chipping potatoes states was from Feb. 1 to July 30 each year. The new language state […]

TRIVIA: Who was Betty Green?

Betty Green was the first Maine Potato Blossom Queen.  The Presque Isle Historical Society has a number of new mini-exhibits at Maysville this season. One of those will be on Betty Green of Presque Isle.   Betty (1930-2010), daughter of Fay and Gretchen Green (sister to Sonny, aunt to Craig) was considered the 1st Maine Potato […]

NPC Launches New “Eye on Potatoes” Podcast

At Potato Expo 2020, NPC announced the launch of its new podcast, “Eye on Potatoes.” The podcast, available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and other podcast platforms, provides a platform for growers throughout the country and policy makers in Washington to learn about the industry policy priorities and hear from growers and experts on […]

NPC Applauds EPA Decision to Roll Back Onerous WOTUS Rule

The National Potato Council welcomed last week’s announcement that EPA finalized its proposed rule defining the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. EPA’s action also defines what waters are not subject to federal control, including most farm and roadside ditches, prior converted cropland, and farm and stock watering […]

2019 Anti Bruise Program Report

-by George McLaughlin This year the Anti-Bruise Program operated with three full time inspectors and one part time inspector. The program provided services to approximately 43 different operations between September 10 and October 19. During that period the inspectors’ evaluated 423 grab samples and 47 Hot Box samples on 28 different varieties in comparison to […]

Congratulations to Dominic LaJoie

Congratulations to fellow Maine potato industry colleague Dominic LaJoie who was elected First Vice President of the National Potato Council at the January national meeting. At NPC’s 2020 Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Britt Raybould of Rexburg, Idaho was elected to serve as NPC’s 2020 President and to lead the council’s Executive Committee. Raybould serves […]

USDA Offers Targeted Farm Loan Funding for Underserved Groups and Beginning Farmers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Maine Farm Service Agency (FSA) Executive Director SED David R. Lavway reminds producers that FSA offers specially targeted farm ownership and farm operating loans to underserved applicants as well as beginning farmers and ranchers. “Each year, a portion of FSA’s loan funds are set aside to lend to targeted underserved […]

Japan’s Upper House Approves Historic U.S.- Japan Agreement on Agricultural Trade

On December 4, 2019 the National Potato Council cheered the passage of the U.S.-Japan Agreement on Agricultural Trade by Japan’s Upper House. Pending official announcements by both countries’ trade ministries, the pact will be enacted on January 1, 2020.  “As the largest export market for U.S. potatoes, Japan is vital for the continued health and […]

APHIS Hosts Potato Commodity Sector Meeting

On December 5, NPC, state partners and individual growers met with Undersecretary of Marketing and Regulatory Services Greg Ibach, APHIS Administrator Kevin Shea and other senior officials for an in-depth discussion on the domestic and international programs that APHIS is undertaking and how they can best engage with the industry to support its health and […]

WOTUS Rule Sent to White House for Final Review

As one of the final steps in repealing the Obama-era “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) definition, on Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sent their version of a final rule to the White House for review. Their rule would rescind the Obama definition of WOTUS, a step that […]

White House, Congress Announce Deal on U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement

Last week, lawmakers announced they have reached a bipartisan agreement to finalize the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). NPC has called for this action since President Trump and the leaders of Canada and Mexico originally signed the agreement in October 2018. “Ratifying USMCA will stabilize the current trade environment with both Canada and Mexico and set rules […]

NPC Applauds House Passage of Farm Workforce Modernization Act

On Wednesday, December 11, the U.S. House passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (H.R. 5038) by a vote of 260-165, with 226 Democrats and 34 Republicans voting in the affirmative. This bipartisan action was applauded by NPC and now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration. “Representatives Lofgren, Newhouse, and Simpson are commended for reaching […]

SCORE Maine Launches Legacy Planning for Farmers

SCORE (www.score.org), mentors to America’s small businesses, in partnership with MassMutual, will offer a workshop for farm businesses entitled Legacy Planning for Farmers. The SCORE/MassMutual workshop helps small business owners plan for the future of their business. SCORE is committed to helping entrepreneurs for the life of their business, including planning for any phase a farm […]

Ag Immigration Bill in House Likely

Negotiations over an agriculture immigration reform bill in the House are drawing to a close. It is likely that a bipartisan bill will be introduced by House Immigration Subcommittee Chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) shortly.  This action comes on the heels of the effort in the last Congress by Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) to begin to […]

Maine Potatoes Popular at The Big E

Maine’s chef potato was a big hit at this year’s Eastern States Exposition, with more than 65,600 sold to visitors there. Don Flannery, executive director of the Maine Potato Board, said that it was a great year for potatoes at the Big E after several years of declining sales. Baked potato sales were up approximately […]

Update on Maine Board of Pesticides Control

By Jacob Dyer The Maine Board of Pesticides Control (MBPC) met on Friday, November 8.  The previous MBPC meeting was held on September 13, 2019. Jennifer Lund, Maine State Apiarist, gave an overview of the Maine State Apiary Program which was developed in 1983 to prevent the introduction and spread of regulated honey bee diseases […]

New Study Shows Potatoes are an Effective Fuel for Athletes

A new study by Dr. Nicholas Burd, a professor at the University of Illinois, shows that potatoes can be as effective as sports gels for athletic performance and better than just consuming water. The study measured the performance of 12 endurance athletes during a 2-hour cycling challenge followed by a time trial on three different […]

Remembering A Friend

Dysart’s truck stop is familiar to many growers and shippers in our industry. In 2000, Dysart’s published its first cookbook in memory of Dave Dysart who died a year previously with all proceeds benefiting cancer charities. In 2010 a second cookbook was published. They are available at either of their locations in Bangor. These cookbooks […]

Pink Eye of Potato

-Andrew Plant, MPB pathologist Pink eye of potato is a physiological disorder of tubers that often results in pinkish colored skin tissue, usually from the middle to bud end of tubers, and often most evident around the eyes, hence the name. Early studies on the disorder often attributed it to one or more pathogens such […]

U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Benefits Potato Industry

The United States reached a trade deal with Japan in late September which includes tariff reductions for U.S. potatoes and other agriculture exports. Details of the tariff concessions were released on Monday, October 7 and are expected to go into effect as early as January 1, 2020, though implementation details have not been released. Importantly, […]

Clock Ticking on House to Pass USMCA

Time is running out on the House of Representatives to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Agreement. USMCA was negotiated to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and is the first trade agreement to be completed by the Administration. Passing it will be a strong sign that Congress and the White House can accomplish major […]

Zillman Family Greenhouse Officially Open

The University of Maine at Presque Isle marked the completion of its state-of-the-art, four-season Zillman Family Greenhouse with an official opening and dedication ceremony on Friday, Sept. 27. Work and learning in the new $935,000, 2,400-square-foot structure—which features a teaching classroom, two climate-controlled research labs, and a faculty office for the Dr. Robert Vinton Akeley […]

China Threatens New Potato Tariffs

In late August, China responded to prior U.S. tariff threats by releasing a new list of targeted American products. Among them were new tariffs on potatoes and potato products. “We have been urging all sides to come to the negotiating table rather than continue ratcheting up the pressure. A reasonable agreement can be achieved, but […]

Mainers Invited to Dispose of Unusable Pesticides

Free disposal with pre-registration by October 7 This October, Mainers can dispose of unusable and waste pesticides thanks to a project sponsored by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) Board of Pesticides Control (BPC) and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The Obsolete Pesticides Collection Program, funded through pesticide product registration […]

Update from Maine Potato Board Agronomy

–Jake Dwyer Spore Trapping The spore trapping program is still ongoing and will conclude on September 23.  To date, no late blight spores have been detected from the 30 collection sites in Maine and New Brunswick.  Early blight spores have been detected throughout the season across the entire region with the highest counts detected earlier […]

Important Memo From Testing Lab

–Andrew Plant For growers wanting voluntary post-harvest testing for Blackleg or Bacterial Ring Rot, the lab will begin accepting samples directly at the lab beginning on September 16, 2019.  We strongly urge growers to have all samples into the lab by October 18, 2019.  The lab cannot guarantee testing results will be delivered prior to […]

Lajoie Farms Receives Champion Grower Nod

McCain Foods recognized its Top 10 Potato Growers Aug. 21 at its annual grower banquet at the Stone Ridge Event Center in Presque Isle. Over 300 guests were invited to celebrate the 2018 growing season and recognize the growers and their achievements. Champion Grower selection is based on the highest standing quality of the following […]

Congrats and THANK YOU!

Congratulations again to the D C Farms family of Mapleton, the Chandlers, who were recognized as the 2019 Farm Family of the Year at the MPB annual meeting held in July. Congratulations as well to Curtis Harrison, who was recognized as the 2019 Young Farmer of the Year. Both recognitions are well deserved, and we […]

Update from Maine Potato Board Agronomy

Spore Trapping The Maine Potato Board and McCain Foods have contracted the AIR Company of Quebec to provide spore trapping and reporting services across several sites in Aroostook County.  There are also several sites located in New Brunswick and Maine growers will receive the results from these locations as well. The sampling began on June […]

Moss Joins President Trump at Ag Trade Meeting

At the end of May, former NPC President Dan Moss joined President Trump at the White House for an ag trade meeting where new support was announced for producers impacted by retaliatory tariffs in China. “It was an honor to be included in this event at the White House,” Moss said. “The success of the […]

Potato Breakfast Provision Included in FY20 Ag Bill

At the end of May, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee included a provision in their FY20 bill that prohibits USDA from excluding or limiting potato access to the school breakfast program. This provision seeks to resolve one of the last holdover issues from the Obama Administration that unfairly impacted potatoes. “We sincerely appreciate the bipartisan […]

Managing Potato Virus Y (PVY) in Potatoes

-Andrew Plant, Plant Pathologist, Maine Potato Board Potato Virus Y (PVY) is a pathogenic virus of potatoes.  Arguably, it is the single most important virus the potato industry (worldwide) deals with.  PVY affects not only crop yields, but tuber quality as well.  PVY can be spread and disseminated by infected seed, aphid vectoring, and by […]

NPC Files Comments on Pymetrozine

Last week the NPC filed comments with EPA that took issue with various provisions of a recent interim decision on pymetrozine. This decision could greatly limit the use of the product on potatoes. Specifically, NPC took issue with flaws in the risk modeling used by EPA to make their decision. “If acted upon to reduce […]