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 […]

UMPI Hosts Groundbreaking for Ag Science Teaching and Research Greenhouse

State-of-the-art greenhouse to provide year-round research opportunities and support for the region’s agricultural industry; Maine Potato Board a partner in fund raising. The University of Maine at Presque Isle celebrated the forthcoming construction of its state-of-the art, four-season teaching and research greenhouse with a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, April 25. The greenhouse—a $935,000, 2,400-square-foot structure […]

USDA Reopens Continuous CRP Signup

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will accept applications beginning June 3, 2019, for certain practices under the continuous Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) signup and will offer extensions for expiring CRP contracts. The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized CRP, one of the country’s largest conservation programs. FSA stopped accepting applications last fall for the continuous CRP signup […]

National Potato Council Announces New Executive Team

On April 5, the National Potato Council (NPC) announced a new executive team. Kam Quarles, the current Vice President of Public Policy and Communications for the NPC, will become the new Chief Executive Officer of the organization. Mike Wenkel, the current Executive Director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, will step into the newly-created role […]

‘Precision Ag’ is Future of Maine Farms and Rural Communities

Technology provides great hope and opportunity for farmers everywhere. It hinges on reliable broadband service and cell phone coverage, which can be a problem. Reprinted by permission of Maine Town & City March 2019, by Janet Pineo One of the newest inventions has the power to transform one of the oldest ones, once the federal […]

Tick Aware and Tick Alert

Warmer weather is on its way, which means that everyone needs to be doing their part to help prevent tickborne diseases. Providers reported over 1,400 cases of Lyme disease in 2018 (preliminary data as of 3/25/19). May is Lyme Disease Awareness Month each year in Maine—the perfect time to remind everyone to be “Tick Aware […]

Census of Agriculture 2017 Numbers Released

Last week, the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the 2017 Census of Agriculture. The Census is conducted every five years, and provides national, state, and county-level data that informs many federal farm programs, policies, and funding decisions. Maine’s Census Report contains some very alarming facts about the loss of farmland and farms. […]

Infrastructure Hearings Begin

The Senate Commerce Committee has begun hearings on infrastructure. Representatives from the rail, trucking and port industries, as well as a labor union leader, all reiterated their support for a gas tax increase. A substantial part of U.S. federal highway funding currently comes from the federal gas tax which is 18.4 cents on gasoline and […]

WOTUS Replacement Released

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) replacement proposed rule was published in the Federal Register at the end of February. The public comment period is 60 days. This action is another step in the rulemaking process that was mandated by an earlier federal court decision that blocked the Administration’s outright repeal […]

Potato Provisions Included In Spending Bill

Recently, the President signed a final year-end spending bill that removes fears over another government shutdown.  Contained within the bill are key potato provisions that have been in play throughout 2018 and into the new year as the shutdown drama played out. “We are very pleased that both the school breakfast amendment and the potato […]

Lighthizer Pushes USMCA on Capital Hill

This week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with the House Democratic Caucus in an effort to gain the necessary votes to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). After the meeting, it was reported that caucus members expressed a desire for Mexico to change its labor laws in advance of the implementation of the agreement.  Among the desired […]

President’s Budget Recommends Ag Cuts

This week, the White House released its recommended Fiscal Year 2020 budget.  The non-binding document suggested $8.9 billion in cuts to USDA’s conservation programs and a $28 billion reduction in crop insurance. As with all President’s budgets, the document is considered “dead on arrival” on Capitol Hill.  Asked about its actual impact, Senate Agriculture Committee […]

FDA Extends FSMA Ag Water Compliance Dates

On March 14, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a final rule that formally extends the compliance dates for the agricultural water provisions of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA).  Larger farms are now required to comply by January 2022, while small farms have until January 2023 and very small farms until January 2024.   From the […]

MPB Farmer / Farm Family of the Year

The Maine Potato Board is looking for nominations within the Maine potato industry for the 2019 Farmer/ Farm Family of the Year award. The farmer / farm family will be selected on the following basis: *Over 40 years of age *Outstanding farming practices *Growth and advancement in farming operation, to include a willingness to try […]

Senator Collins Meets with Maine Potato Board

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins met with several members of the Maine Potato Board (MPB) in her Washington, D.C., office who were visiting our nation’s capital for the National Potato Council Fly-In annual meeting.  Senator Collins delivered remarks at the annual meeting to farmers from a range of potato-growing states. “I was delighted […]

NPC Comments on HHS Healthy People 2030

Feb. 15, 2019 – On January 17, NPC filed comments with the Department of Health and Human Services regarding its Healthy People 2030 process.  NPC focused its comments on ensuring that science is utilized to make recommendations about the food that is encouraged for consumption, instead of methods lacking in empirical rigor.   “NPC has a concern that […]

NPC Resumes Ag Labor Efforts

Feb. 15, 2019 – NPC has resumed its work with other major agricultural associations in pushing Congress and the Administration for agricultural labor reform.  There have been signals from Congressional negotiators that they may attempt to address some of the immigration crisis as part of three-week talks aimed at averting another government shutdown. “We are long-time […]

NPC Joins Letter Urging End to Trade Dispute

Feb. 15, 2019 – Recently, NPC joined a letter with 45 other affected industry associations urging an immediate end to the trade dispute with Mexico and Canada that has occurred as a result of U.S. “232” tariffs placed on steel and aluminum. “For many farmers, ranchers and manufacturers, the damage from the reciprocal trade actions in the steel […]

Farmworker and WOTUS Repeal Bills Introduced

Feb. 15, 2019 – Late January saw the introduction of separate bills designed to legalize the current improperly-documented agricultural workforce and also to repeal the Waters of the U.S. rule. The “Agricultural Worker Program Act” would allow farmworkers to earn a “blue card” that provides legal status while they work in agriculture.  Among the initial requirements, […]

Maine legislators promote potato industry in U.S. trade with China

Feb. 15, 2019 – Maine legislators have joined this bipartisan group, asking that the U.S. potato industry be considered in trade negotiations with China. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Jared Golden signed a letter to the Trump administration, asking that the U.S. potato industry be a priority in discussions about […]