John Keeling is The Packer’s 2018 Potato Man for All Seasons. Tom Karst, the editor of The Packer, presented the award at National Potato Council’s annual banquet on Jan. 11.
Keeling, executive vice president and CEO of the National Potato Council and a part of the 2011 class of The Packer 25, will retire from the Washington, D.C.-based council by mid-year. The council is in the early stages of searching for a successor to Keeling.
Keeling has had a transformational impact on the potato industry since he was hired in late 2001, Karst said, leading efforts to enhance potato exports, boost the potato’s role in nutrition programs and working as a key lobbyist for specialty crop interests in the farm bill.
Drawing from comments submitted by NPC members who nominated Keeling for the award, Karst said Keeling was the leader of the group when it transitioned from Denver to Washington, D.C. in 2002. His nearly 15 years of legislative and regulatory influence experience before coming to the National Potato Council served the industry well.