The National Potato Council’s new executive staff will be well known to its members. The current vice president of public policy and communications for the NPC, Kam Quarles, will become the new CEO May 15, and Mike Wenkel, the executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission, will join the same time as chief operations officer.
NPC’s longtime CEO John Keeling plans to retire at the end of June after 17 years leading the council. “There’s never been a NPC in DC without John Keeling,” Quarles said April 8. He said because of the leadership Keeling gave the council, it necessitated a reset of the staff and strategy, which Quarles and Wenkel will bring.
Quarles said the recently passed farm bill was beneficial to the potato industry, and now the biggest issue facing potato growers is trade.
Quarles said in the short term, he’ll be working with government leaders on keeping open markets, especially with the U.S.’s neighbors.
He said the potato industry would lose about $200 million if the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement fails and the U.S. pulls out of NAFTA. “With trade, things are very tenuous,” he said.