With the nation continuing to reel from the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Potato Council’s annual summer meeting was held using Zoom teleconferencing and Facebook on June 25. More than 200 people participated in the summer meeting. Bill Schaefer reports for Farm & Ranch.
NPC President Britt Raybould, of St. Anthony, ID, opened the meeting by putting a positive spin on the teleconference format, saying that an online platform will open the door to other online events throughout the year
Potato sales have slightly rebounded but the impact to institutional food sales across the nation following quarantine measures taken in the middle of March continues to reverberate, according to Raybould.
“We need to continue pressing USDA and Secretary (Sonny) Perdue to resolve the shortcomings in the specialty crop programs,” she said. “We also need to continue our efforts to inform legislators about the issues we discussed back in February, including improved trade access, support for potato research and immigration reform.”
Kam Quarles, NPC’s CEO, applauded the federal government’s initial efforts to minimize the economic impact of the March quarantine on the nation’s potato industry.
However, the USDA’s most recent efforts to provide additional financial assistance to specialty crops, including potatoes, through direct payments to impacted growers has missed the mark, he said.
Other presenters during the event include Mike Wenkel, NPC’s chief operating officer, Mark Klompien, president and CEO of the United Potato Growers of America, and John Toaspern, chief marketing officer for Potatoes USA.