Commissioner Announces Appointments to Maine Seed Potato Board

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb has announced the appointment of David McCrum of Rumford Point and the re-appointment of Dominic Lajoie of Van Buren to the Maine Seed Potato Board.

David McCrum has agreed to serve as a commissioner’s appointment and Dominic LaJoie has agreed to be re-appointed to the position of a person producing potatoes in Aroostook County primarily for processing. The Maine Seed Potato Board was established in 1945 to ensure an adequate supply of foundation seed potatoes for the state’s commercial seed potato producers and ultimately for the Maine potato industry.

“Maine’s potato industry, like Maine agriculture, continues to show resiliency and innovation in the face of new challenges and opportunities,” said Gov. Paul R. LePage, according to a press release from his office. “These appointments help ensure that growers, producers and consumers are well served by the Maine Seed Potato Board. Maine’s potato industry continues to play a significant role in Maine’s economy and New England agriculture.”

“David McCrum and Dominic Lajoie have a breadth of knowledge and experience that will benefit Maine’s potato industry, particularly in promoting the high value seed potato through their service on the board,” said Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Walt Whitcomb, in the press release. “I am pleased that they will apply their talents for the benefit of the Maine potato industry and Maine agriculture as a whole.”

McCrum is the managing partner of Sunday River Farms LLC. In 2004, County Super Spuds purchased Arthur Ladd’s farming operation headquartered in Rumford Point, Maine to become Sunday River Farms. Sunday River Farms is part of Penobscot McCrum, one of North America’s largest suppliers of superior, value-added potato specialty products.

The McCrum family represents five generations of potato farmers who began in the northern Maine town of Mars Hill. As a vertically integrated company, the McCrum family enterprise spans the entire state–specializing in every aspect of potatoes. Vertical integration allows the McCrum family to monitor quality from field to table, ensuring that the highest standards are met every step along the way.

Lajoie is part of a three-generation family organization that runs LaJoie Growers, LLC, an agricultural operation in Aroostook County. For five generations, the LaJoie family has been producing potatoes in Van Buren in the St. John River Valley. The company currently has approximately 1,300 acres of specialty produce and grain crops. Produce grown on the farm is suitable for different markets such as processing, chip, fresh and seed.

The Maine Seed Potato Board was established and organized in April 1945 to foster and improve the seed potato industry of the State of Maine. A number of changes in the board’s structure have occurred since then, and the last one occurred in 2009 when the Legislature voted to transfer oversight of the board from the department to the Maine Potato Board. The commissioner now serves as a member and appoints two members to include a representative of the potato industry in a county other than Aroostook County and a person producing potatoes in Aroostook County primarily for processing. The Maine Potato Board appoints six members representing the potato industry in Aroostook County, including one grower producing primarily tablestock potatoes and another grower producing potatoes primarily for processing.

The board carries out its mission through the operation of a foundation seed potato production facility known as the Porter Farm in Masardis, Maine. Over 200 different varieties are maintained in a tissue culture bank and nearly sixty varieties of seed potatoes are produced in the fields each year. The facility is equipped with tissue culture production, disease testing laboratories, seed storages with climate control systems, greenhouses and an irrigation system to support the production of nuclear and foundation seed. In 2009, the board began producing mini-tubers in a state of the art greenhouse using hydroponics that allowed them to produce high quality mini-tubers at very competitive prices. It also enabled them to increase the volume of seed at a much faster rate to meet growing demands for new varieties.