US: Potato growers prepare for new sustainability audit

Potato farmers doing business with some of the industry’s largest customers may be selected to complete a new audit this season, delving into sustainability issues such as recycling and how farm practices affect pollinators. A small number of U.S. growers were picked last season for a trial run with the new Potato Sustainability Audit. This season, the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America will roll out the audit on a large scale. Growers doing business with major potato buyers; including Lamb Weston, J.R. Simplot, McCain Foods, Cavendish Farms, Basic American Foods, McDonalds and Sysco; will be asked to complete a 104-question survey assessing the sustainability of their operations. Twenty percent of growers surveyed will be audited in person. During the audit, growers will be asked for more in-depth explanations and records pertaining to 13 mandatory questions from the list and 27 optional questions of the auditor’s choice. Based on performance, growers will be ranked as basic, steward, master or expert. This is something to work toward, said University of Idaho Extension potato storage specialist Nora Olsen. The whole point of this is to improve year by year to do a little bit better by the environment. More