Potato Bytes 12.07.2021
News from the Northern Plains Potato Growers Association
Serving the potato industry in North Dakota and
Northwest Minnesota for 75 years!
NPPGA Welcomes New Office Manager

Northern Plains Potato Growers Association (NPPGA) would like to introduce our new Office Manager, Erin VanCamp.

Erin is a Drayton, North Dakota native and a former Office Manager at MarKit County Grain LLC in Argyle, Minnesota. More recently Erin returned to school to earn her Bachelor's degree in Accounting at the University of Minnesota - Crookston.

Erin is looking forward to meeting our growers and associates so stop in and say hi! You can email Erin at evancamp@nppga.org

Erin replaces our long-time Finance Director Diane Peycke who retired after 35 years with our association.
Red River Red Bobbleheads Now Available for Purchase

To commemorate our 75th Anniversary, NPPGA recently sent our growers their very own Red River Red Bobblehead. Red was the marketing image for over two decades for Red River Valley Potatoes in the early days of our association.

We have reserved a limited supply to make available to the public at a cost of $30 each which includes shipping and handling. Email Erin to order yours and arrange payment and shipping.

These 6" tall Bobbleheads are the real thing, not a cheap plastic imitation.
Simple Questions About Devastating Disease Require Transparent Answers

Op-ed By Kam Quarles, CEO National Potato Council
December 2, 2021
For the second time in under 12 months, the North American potato industry received news that no one wanted: more detections of the devastating potato wart disease found in fields in Prince Edward Island (PEI), Canada. These detections occurred just seven months after exports of seed potatoes between PEI and the United States had restarted after an October 2020 outbreak in seed potato fields caused their suspension.

The response last month by both the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was rapid. The technical experts in both agencies agreed that protections for all other Canadian provinces would be instituted and those for the U.S. would be reinstated and expanded. As these new detections this year occurred in processing fields, the U.S. export suspension would be broadened to include all fresh potatoes until comprehensive surveys could be conducted and the data analyzed by both countries.
These actions are entirely reasonable and in proportion to the threat of potato wart to the industries of both countries. Canada has a long history in dealing with such devastation. Beginning in the early 1900s, this very disease became so widespread in Newfoundland that potatoes grown there today still cannot be moved outside its borders to protect the rest of the country.

Secretary Tom Vilsack and his team at USDA should be commended for working with CFIA in instituting a pause in exports to the U.S. to fully understand the situation with this important trading partner and hopefully resume trade in a way that addresses the risk. His statement immediately following CFIA’s order said exactly that, and the U.S. potato industry stands behind those actions.

Certainly, this news has not been welcomed by those impacted. Quarantines have been instituted numerous times around the world in the face of disease threats and each time those growers are vocal in their opposition. Claims that this action is part of a “trade war” with the U.S. have been made very loudly in the local media in PEI. However, those political statements are not supported by any reasonable understanding of how trade wars work. 
First, a trade war requires one country to benefit from the action. 
In this case the U.S. potato industry – particularly individual U.S. growers who rely on PEI for their annual seed supply -- is harmed by the lack of access to seed and other fresh potatoes from PEI. 
Second, a trade war is a dispute between two countries. 
In this case, CFIA’s self-imposed action includes protections for all the other provinces of Canada to prevent the spread of potato wart throughout their own country, along with limiting what can be shipped to the United States. Both actions are consistent with Canada’s intention to minimize a disease spread.

It should be noted that the PEI seed outbreak last year was “resolved” by CFIA after just five months of investigation and without determining a cause. The U.S., at that time, then allowed trade to resume based on the lack of clear evidence of the presence of wart. However, the additional rapid detections of potato wart in the last month paint a picture of disease spread that warrants a different response this year.
Given the evolving situation, an efficient resolution requires transparent answers to some simple questions.
Number one: How widespread is the disease in PEI? 
As has been indicated by CFIA, the soil sampling program on PEI for potato wart has decreased by roughly 75 percent over the past five years. Without that type of analysis, there is no comprehensive base of information to understand the disease spread. In the absence of rigorous testing, visual inspections are the fallback method, but they come with vastly less efficacy. Even more troubling, despite the reduction in soil testing, disease detections are accelerating. 

And question number two: What is Canada and PEI going to do to improve the situation based on the data they receive? 
Comprehensive soil sampling tests need to be reinstated as quickly as possible at a vastly larger scale than five years ago. Based on the results of those surveys, the technical experts can determine what improvements are necessary in the PEI potato wart program to reverse this trend of detections, minimize risk and hopefully restart shipments to the rest of Canada and the U.S. consistent with the science.

The U.S. industry has dealt with numerous phytosanitary issues over the years and fully understands the difficult situation the PEI growers and their entire industry are facing. Our industry has conveyed to U.S. officials our desire to restart trade safely and efficiently with this important partner, but only once clear answers are provided on how the disease is progressing and what transparent steps are being taken to minimize its threat to the rest of Canada and the United States.

The U.S. potato industry appreciates CFIA for acting quickly and recognizing this dire threat to the U.S. and Canadian potato industries. We are committed to working collaboratively with USDA, CFIA, and the Canadian potato industry to ensure that the science is followed so we can resume normal trade that benefits growers, workers, industry partners, and local communities on both sides of the border. 
How Changes to NRCS Wetland Determination Rules Could Benefit Your Operation

By Zachary C. Burmeister & Kale R. Van Bruggen Attorneys at Law – Rinke Noonan, Ltd.

Improvements to USDA regulations finalized in 2020 could provide farmers an opportunity to improve NRCS-certified wetland determinations and provide exemptions from Clean Water Act oversight by the EPA and Army Corps.

Farmers who produce an agricultural commodity on a converted wetland, or convert a wetland to make the production of an agricultural commodity possible, risk losing USDA farm program benefits and their federal crop insurance premium subsidies. Acres determined by NRCS to be prior converted cropland or non-wetland on certified wetland determinations are exempt from USDA wetland conservation compliance provisions (commonly called “Swampbuster”) and can be drained or tiled without risk of losing benefits. Acres certified by NRCS as prior converted cropland are also more likely to be exempt from Clean Water Act oversight.

The Biden Administration recently announced its intention to revisit the ever-litigated “waters of the United States” rule (“WOTUS”). Recent improvements to Swampbuster regulations and the upcoming changes to the WOTUS rule make now a prime time for farmers to investigate whether areas labeled wetland and farmed wetland on their fields should be recertified as prior converted cropland or non-wetland.

On August 28, 2020, the USDA finalized new regulations that have improved the wetland determination process.

Potatoes Praised in Leading Consumer Media

Potatoes were featured in top-tier media as a source of key nutrients like vitamin C, fiber, protein, and as a source of good carbohydrates. Here is a look at some recent media highlights.

“There are few chefs more qualified to lend advice about mashed potatoes than RJ Harvey. Harvey is a registered dietitian and the culinary director of Potatoes USA. He’s also a Johnson & Wales-trained chef with an impressive resume that includes Grant Achatz’s Alinea and Thomas Keller’s French Laundry.”

“Olive oil mashed potatoes with kale is a supercharged version of classic mashed potatoes.” (Potatoes USA recipe)

“While potatoes sometimes get a bad rap for being starchy, when cooked in low-fat, low-sodium environments, potatoes have lots of value in a healthy diet.” (Includes link to Potatoes USA recipe.)

“Recently published research in the British Journal of Nutrition found that 9-17 year-old girls who consumed up to one cup of potatoes daily had no increased risk of becoming overweight or developing high blood pressure, dyslipidemia, or impaired fasting glucose by the end of the study in late adolescence.”

Cut to the Chase Nutrition: News Flash: Potatoes are OK Again!
“The poor potato has been playing defense for years now. I speak of “white potatoes”, the poor stepchild of sweet potatoes, which have become the darling of the “starchy vegetable set” because they’re loaded with the antioxidant beta-carotene.”

“But do you know how to make potatoes for everyone at your table this year? Potatoes USA has you covered, with delicious and sometimes surprising takes on our favorite Thanksgiving side.”
Potato Bytes Landmark Trivia
Last Week's Famous Landmark

Last week's Bytes Trivia Landmark was the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

It was identified correctly by James Staricka, Brett Miller, Justin Dagen, Ian MacRae, Perry Paschke, Nick Sinner and Geoff Price.

Name this Famous Landmark

Send your answer in by clicking on the red tab below.

All those answering correctly will be recognized in the next Potato Bytes.
Recipe of the Week

Cheesy, Crispy Smashed Potatoes

  • Prep Time: 10 min.
  • Cook Time: 30 min.
  • Cuisine: American
  • Prep Method: Baked, Boiled
  • Serves: 8

Recipe by: Sammi Brondo

These smashed potatoes are one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. There’s just no other way to describe it. They’re perfectly crispy, cheesy and hearty and make a perfect side dish for pretty much every holiday coming up.

Coming Events @ a Glance

Dec. 13-16

Jan. 5-6

Feb. 15
  • NPPGA Research Reporting Conference and Annual Meeting - Alerus Center - Grand Forks, ND

Feb. 16-17