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News Archive

Grassroots Messenger

March 9, 2015

Being a leader in the potato industry isn’t a new or unusual role for Dan Lake. It’s a role the 2015 president of the National Potato Council (NPC) he is well known for across the Big Sky state of Montana.

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Growers Stand Up For Potatoes On Capitol Hill

March 4, 2015

On February 23-26, NPC hosted the 2015 Potato D.C. Fly-In, where more than 150 U.S. potato growers and industry partners from across the country came to Washington, D.C., to advocate for the industry's most pressing federal policy priorities.

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National Potato Council applauds new IOM recommendation on white potatoes

February 4, 2015

Today, the National Academy of Science’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report that is the first in a series to evaluate the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

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NPC Names Awards Winners

January 26, 2015

Each year, the National Potato Council holds an awards banquet at its Annual Meeting to honor individuals whose work has aided the industry in addressing issues that impact potato production. The awards banquet provides a venue to highlight the contributions, dedication, and leadership of deserving individuals who emerge from a competitive pool of nominees.

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Past Presidents National Potato Council Honored for WIC Accomplishment

January 26, 2015

At the National Potato Council (NPC) Annual Meeting on January 9, 2015, in Orlando, Florida, seven NPC past presidents were invited to come on stage to be recognized for their involvement in adding fresh white potatoes to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program.

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Rockey Farm (Colorado) receives the NPC 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award

January 26, 2015

Brendon and Sheldon Rockey of Rockey Farms in Center, Colorado, were named the recipients of the prestigious 2014 Environmental Stewardship Award presented at the National Potato Council’s (NPC) 2015 Annual Meeting, held January 9-10, in Orlando, Florida.

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NPC Column: The Truth of the Matter

April 25, 2014

Sitting at my desk in Washington, D.C., I am regularly forwarded emails from so-called pro-consumer groups urging people to support their latest public policy campaigns. Some groups pressure restaurants to substitute fresh fruits and vegetables for French fries in children’s meals. Others urge for strict bans on pesticides or other crop protection tools they have deemed unacceptable. And some call for taxes on sugar, fat, salt, Trans fat, etc., etc., etc. … in foods offered to consumers.

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Growing the Industry’s Voice: A Message from NPC President Randy Hardy

February 25, 2014

My number one goal is to get back some of the political voice that slipped away as farm numbers diminished over the decades since my uncle held the NPC gavel. Just as importantly, we must grow the collective voice of NPC by connecting with individual growers to help them see the benefits of getting involved with the political process.

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Another View: Editorial offers no good reason for keeping Maine potatoes off WIC list

February 21, 2014

As a former president of the National Potato Council and owner of a family-run potato farm in Exeter, I am very concerned that the federal government is telling the public that potatoes are unhealthy and deserve to be left out of a major nutrition program.

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NPC Column: Years of Farm Bill Labor Bears Fruit

February 4, 2014

The 2014 farm bill is nothing short of a tremendous victory for potato growers and our specialty crop partners who have labored to preserve the gains made in the last farm bill go-round in 2008. At a time when the purse strings have tightened for virtually every other federal program, this new investment made to the specialty crop industry in this farm bill is nothing short of unprecedented.

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Spudman: Agricultural groups hail passage of farm bill

February 4, 2014

Specialty crop advocates are hailing the U.S. Senate’s passage Feb. 4, by a vote of 68-32, of the conference report to the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm Bill). The legislation now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

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NPC Column: Strength in Numbers on Capitol Hill

January 31, 2014

This February, potato growers and industry partners will gather in Washington, D. C., to focus on shaping a better business future for the potato industry. Will you be there?

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Two growers and a scientist win awards at recent POTATO EXPO

January 20, 2014

When Carl Hoverson began farming in the 1970s, some farmers still used moldboard plows. “We kept fields super black in those days,” says Hoverson, a Larimore, N.D., farmer. “Now we leave residue to keep the dirt from blowing.” Hoverson uses a number of modern farming practices to protect the environment — good stewardship that won him and Hoverson Farms the National Potato Council’s 2013 Environmental Stewardship Award.

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NPC Column: A Call for Consistency

December 31, 2013

Since the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) was signed into law in January 2011, the ag world has been bracing for a flood of new FDA rules governing the way agricultural products are produced, shipped and sold.

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WSU News: Spud research lands WSU grad student $10,000

September 6, 2013

PULLMAN, Wash. - When Rhett Spear first saw the message emailed to him from Washington, D.C., he figured it was a scam. Congratulations, it said. You have been awarded a $10,000 research scholarship from the National Potato Council. "I e-mailed them back and asked them to verify it,” recalled Spear, a Ph.D. horticulture student at Washington State University. "Eventually, I believed it was legitimate. To say I was happy would be an understatement.”

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NPC Column: Top TPP Priorities

September 1, 2013

The stakes were high for the U.S. potato industry as international trade negotiators pack their suitcases for the 18th exhaustive round of Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, scheduled for July 15-24 in Malaysia. While TPP represents a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. potato industry, NPC, USPB, and our state allies are pushing to add another chair to the negotiation table for our most important trading partner: Japan.

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NPC Column: Just Tell us the Rules so we can Get Back to Work

July 25, 2013

The federal government tells us that we need to play by their rules, but a lot of the time they don’t tell us what those rules are. All we get is the message that the laws are likely (or not!) to change.

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Op-ed by Sen. Susan Collins: Supporting Maine's potatoes

July 25, 2013

I certainly support USDA's goal to increase the availability of all fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in its federal nutrition programs. That is why I will continue to lead the efforts in Washington on behalf of the potato — armed with the sound nutritional facts and aware of the economic implications for Maine's potato industry.

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NPC Column: Potatoes Are Good For You

July 10, 2013

A recent study shows that white vegetables are just as important to a healthy diet as their green, red, and yellow cousins in the produce aisle.

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NPC Column: A Tremendous Boost for the Industry

June 1, 2013

In early April, the Obama Administration made an announcement that should come as welcome relief to U.S. potato growers suffering through near historic low prices: the United States government is supporting the inclusion of Japan in ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership trade talks.

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NPC Column: When Food is Peace

May 22, 2013

Since the creation of the Food for Peace program nearly 60 years ago, an estimated three billion people in 150 countries have benefited directly from U.S. food aid supplied by U.S. farmers. Due to these and other humanitarian programs, the American people have been able to demonstrate to the rest of the world that we are willing and able to fight global hunger, help people recover from natural and man-made crises, and support nutrition and development in impoverished countries. Unfortunately, President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, which was released in mid-April, proposes to drastically change the Food for Peace program by altering the way our international food aid is procured, shipped, and delivered across the globe to the people who need it most.

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The Packer: Potato leaders see potential in Japan

April 12, 2013

U.S. potato exporters hope the Obama administration’s decision to support the idea of including Japan in the Trans Pacific Partnership talks will eventually lead to more business with the island nation. Leaders at the National Potato Council, Washington D.C., applauded the move April 12, saying in a news release that the inclusion of Japan in the talks could be a “tremendous boost for the U.S. potato industry.”

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Spudman: Training Future Leaders

March 17, 2013

It wasn’t quite as intense as a boot camp but participants in the 2013 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) spent seven days immersed in everything about the potato industry. Beginning in Idaho Falls, Idaho, on February 21, the 2013 class spent two and a half days working on leadership training and visiting two packing sheds, a processing plant, a dehy plant and a potato equipment manufacturing plant.

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NPC Column: Immigration, Guest Worker Reform Gain Traction in DC

March 11, 2013

By NPC Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling -- During his Jan. 21 Inauguration Address, President Obama pledged to make immigration reform a top legislative priority for his second term. While immigration reform has been a theme since his first presidential campaign in 2008, Obama’s first-term focus on overhauling the health care system forced him to expend a tremendous amount of political capital, leaving his immigration agenda simmering on the back burner. However, with Republicans struggling to quickly make up ground in appealing to the burgeoning Hispanic voting bloc, Washington, DC, is now buzzing with a flurry of bipartisan solutions to fix the nation’s immigration challenges.

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NPC Column: Across the Goal Line

March 8, 2013

By NPC President Randy Mullen -- During his final address to potato growers in January, 2012 NPC President Steve Crane of Maine compared last year’s efforts to address the industry’s federal policy priorities to a football game: he said we drove a number of our priorities down the field only to have them stopped right before the goal line. The farm bill, the fresh potato Mexico access issue, and efforts to include fresh potatoes in the WIC program all came immediately to my mind as I was listening to Steve’s remarks. Although we may not have put a lot of points up on the board, we believe the legwork done by NPC and our state partners will yield opportunities to get these issues into the end zone in 2013.

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Capital Press: Potato Fly-in connects with Congress

February 20, 2013

During last year's Potato D.C. Fly-in, National Potato Council spokesman Mark Szymanski believes his organization won over many of the 93 members of Congress who signed a letter demanding that fresh potatoes be added to the Women, Infants and Children Program. Potatoes remain the only vegetable excluded from the federal nutrition program, which supports low-income women and children who are nutritionally at risk. During the upcoming Fly-in, scheduled for Feb. 25-28, growers will continue lobbying for changes to WIC, as no final rule has yet been published, Szymanski said.

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Spudman: Taking the Wheel

February 9, 2013

The pendulum has swung from the east to the west with the election of Randy Mullen of Pasco, Wash., as 2013 National Potato Council (NPC) president. With his election at the NPC’s annual meeting in Las Vegas in January Mullen succeeds Steve Crane, of Exeter, Maine. Mullen’s involvement with the NPC began more than 15 years ago. Previously, he had been involved with the USPB and the Washington State Potato Commission.

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NPC Column: New Opportunities to Advance Policy Goals

February 9, 2013

By NPC President Randy Mullen -- Earlier this year, America’s potato growers placed their trust in me to lead the National Potato Council as its president throughout 2013. It is a responsibility I take seriously; overseeing an organization that impacts the lives and livelihoods of thousands of growers and their families is a humbling experience. I hope the decisions made by me, the executive committee, and our board of directors made up of growers from across the country will keep us on a track that supports a stronger industry for decades to come.

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NPC column: Federal tax policy threatens family farms

January 24, 2013

Last December’s “fiscal cliff” debate in Washington, D.C., shed a national spotlight on some of the unique challenges that farmers face in securing their investments in land and production assets for their families. Although individuals and family-run corporations own approximately 98 percent of America’s two million farms and ranches, they are increasingly being lumped together with the much maligned big business sector by those who are searching for more funding to run the federal government. However, the inclusion of inheritance and capital gains taxes in the debate brought to light the fact that our federal tax policy is often at odds with the country’s stated goal of retaining multi-generational family farms within the family.

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Washington farmer to lead National Potato Council

January 21, 2013

A Pasco, Wash., potato farmer will lead the National Potato Council for the coming year. Randy Mullen was recently elected to serve as the council's president for 2013. "It is my hope to use the next 12 months to build upon our successes and help move some of our high-priority policy issues -- like expanding fresh potato access to Mexico -- over the finish line," Mullen said in a Washington Potato Commission press release.

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Award recognizes Michigan potato leader’s decades of service

January 12, 2013

Ben Kudwa, who retired in 2012 after spending 25 years at the helm of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, DeWitt, was honored for his decades of industry leadership at the National Potato Council’s awards banquet, Jan. 11, in Las Vegas.

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NPC making plans for PILI and Potato D.C. Fly-In

November 11, 2012

Not that the staff at the National Potato Council (NPC) isn’t busy year round, but the build-up to January’s POTATO EXPO 2013 and February’s Potato Industry Leadership Institute and Potato Fly-In adds an extra jolt of hyperactivity to the Beltway posse.

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Deal to unlock exports of fries

October 25, 2012

U.S. potato industry leaders estimate a free trade agreement with Panama that takes effect Oct. 31 should boost frozen fry exports to the Central American nation by at least $10 million, once fully implemented.The agreement phases out a 20 percent tariff on frozen fries and a 15 percent tariff on dehydrated products from the U.S. over the course of five years.

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South Korean ban on NW potatoes partially lifted

October 10, 2012

South Korea has lifted a ban against Pacific Northwest-grown potatoes used for things like potato chips, but a ban on other fresh potatoes still remains because of a fear over a bacterium known as zebra chip, state officials announced Wednesday during a phone conference from Gov. Chris Gregoire's trade mission.

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Top Potato

October 6, 2012

One afternoon this past summer, Gregg Halverson, who under routine circumstances is too busy to contemplate meals, sat in his office at Black Gold Farms world headquarters in North Dakota and pondered the question: Can you eat potatoes every day? A person could have hash browns for breakfast, chips at noon and mashed potatoes for supper, he decided.

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U.S. potato exports top $1.5 billion

September 27, 2012

U.S. potato exports topped $1.5 billion in fiscal 2012, increasing 17 percent in value and 10 percent in volume over the previous year, according to a recent U.S. Potato Board report. USPB officials and other industry experts credit the improvements to a strengthening global economy, a rising middle class in Asian countries, new trade agreements and an increased emphasis on expanding business in foreign markets.

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UPDATED: Support for Mexican plan to expand potato access

September 26, 2012

After years of lobbying for full entry of tablestock potatoes into Mexico, the U.S. potato industry is hopeful a Mexican proposal to do just that holds. The government of Mexico proposed in September to allow U.S. fresh potatoes throughout the country; exports are limited to a 26-kilometer- (16 mile-) range into Mexico.

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Help us recognize a potato industry leader

September 25, 2012

TheGrower.com and The Packer need your help in recognizing potato industry leaders. Each year, TheGrower.com and The Packer present either the Potato Man of the Year or the Potato Man for All Seasons award at the National Potato Council's annual awards banquet. This year the banquet is Jan. 11, 2013, in Las Vegas.

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ARS Restores $209,000 in Potato Research Grants

September 19, 2012

USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced it has restored half of the FY 2012 potato research funding it originally cut as a way to meet its obligated savings requirements. Earlier this year, while ARS reduced its potato funding grants by 30 percent, NPC worked with it to minimize the impact of those cuts on the industry's vital research programs.

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Leaders call for farm bill passage

September 12, 2012

For growers, the 2012 farm bill is similar to the weather — everybody is talking about it, but nobody is doing anything about it. Eighty organizations, including agriculture groups and consumer groups, participating in a “Farm Bill Now” rally Sept. 12 in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Reflecting Pond hope their enthusiasm will spur Congress to pass the farm bill. The current bill expires at the end of September.

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Mexico needs to commit to potato agreement, grower testifies

August 2, 2012

Mexico needs to prove itself a responsible trade partner if the country wants to be a trusted member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a U.S. potato grower told Congress. Speaking about Mexico’s trade restrictions on U.S. potatoes, Roger Mix, past president of the National Potato Council, Washington, D.C., and potato grower with Mix Farms, Center, Colo., testified at a late July hearing of the House Small Business Subcommittee on Agriculture, Energy and Trade.

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John Keeling column: Why Ban Fresh Potatoes From The WIC Program?

July 11, 2012

A recent national survey revealed that nearly seven out of 10 Americans are eating more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains than they did five years ago. Not only is this great news for the produce industry, but the poll, conducted by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is a sign that people may finally be heeding the healthy eating messages promoted by nutritionists, doctors, and anti-obesity advocates.

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Members of Congress back potatoes for WIC

July 3, 2012

Ninety-three members of Congress are pushing to get fresh potatoes included in the Women, Infants and Children supplemental nutrition program. Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Rep. Gregory W. Meeks, D-N.Y., on June 27 sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging the USDA to reconsider the WIC program ban on the purchase of fresh white potatoes.

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Senate farm bill passes by wide margin

June 21, 2012

Pumping $15 million more per year into the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and preserving other key industry wins from the 2008 farm bill, the Senate did their part to deliver a fruit and vegetable friendly 2012 farm bill. By a vote of 64 to 35, the Senate passed the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012.

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Deal could open Mexico to spuds

June 21, 2012

U.S. potato industry officials applauded the June 18 announcement that Mexico will join the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations, which is expected to result in Mexico opening its entire country to the shipment of fresh U.S. spuds. Potato industry officials say gaining full access to Mexico represents a $150 million opportunity for the domestic industry.

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Trade pact adds Canada, Mexico

June 18, 2012

Mexico’s inclusion in negotiations of a new trade agreement is expected to open the door for expanded U.S. potato exports to Mexico, a long-awaited move for the U.S. potato industry. A 2003 agreement between the two countries promised full access for U.S. potatoes, but shipments since then have been limited to 26 kilometers (about 16 miles).

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Farm bill gridlock threatens

April 25, 2012

A lethal combination of election year politics and ever worsening gridlock in Congress is casting doubt on whether there will be a 2012 farm bill. And failure to pass new legislation will have serious consequences for Florida growers. It remains to be seen whether the House and Senate agricultural committees can produce bills that get reconciled in conference committees, then brought to the floor for votes.

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Specialty crop interests encouraged with Senate farm bill

April 24, 2012

Industry advocates say the initial version of the Senate farm bill shows continued bipartisan support for specialty crop block grants, export promotion and research funds. The next step is a markup session in the Committee of Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry,, where amendments may be offered to the initial draft.

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Spud industry cheers Korean deal

April 12, 2012

Potato industry officials are hailing the United States' recent free trade agreement with South Korea as a $35 million opportunity for domestic spud farmers. The agreement resulted in the immediate elimination of South Korea's 18 percent tariff on U.S. frozen potato products. The country also agreed to accept 3,000 metric tons of fresh potatoes from the U.S. in 2012, with the amount increasing 3 percent a year indefinitely.

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Senators back specialty crops

April 12, 2012

Idaho's nursery industry is joining industry leaders in applauding a letter signed by 32 U.S. senators that calls for the new farm bill to build on specialty crop provisions contained in the 2008 Farm Bill. In the letter sent to the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee, the senators said the programs established in the 2008 Farm Bill significantly benefited consumers, producers and farm communities.

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John Keeling column: National School Breakfast And Lunch Programs Discriminate Against Potatoes

March 8, 2012

On Wednesday, Jan. 25, First Lady Michelle Obama and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the release of USDA’s much-anticipated final rule updating the menu requirements for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program. As directed by Congress, USDA did not include maximum potato serving limits as it had originally desired in the lunch program, and removed its proposed complete prohibition of potatoes in the breakfast program.

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John Keeling column: Research Funding Critical to Success

March 7, 2012

America's agriculture industry didn't become the greatest in the world just because it was blessed with bountiful land and hard-working farmers; it rose to the top due in large part to our considerable and ongoing commitment to agriculture research. For the potato industry, the importance of continuing this research commitment cannot be overstated. The application of research-driven production techniques and technologies has driven dramatic improvements in potato yields.

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Top 100 Grower Takes Home Environmental Stewardship Award

January 18, 2012

Heartland Farms, Inc. a 14,000-acre irrigated potato and vegetable farm and American Vegetable Grower Top 100 Grower in the North, is the recipient of the National Potato Council (NPC) Environmental Stewardship Award. The award was presented at the annual awards banquet of the NPC held Jan. 7 in Orlando, FL.

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