Australia: Potato grower Tony Galati fined $40,000 in Perth court for contempt

Tony Galati, who has been fined $40,000 for contempt of court.Potato rebel Tony Galati and his company has been fined $40,000 for his admitted contempt of court in growing more potatoes than agreed to with the now extinct Potato Marketing Corporation in Western Australia. Earlier this month, the protracted potato war between the Spud Shed owner and the government came to an end, after he pleaded guilty to a contempt of court charge, that was intended to prevent Mr Galati growing more than 1049 tonnes of potatoes in the prescribed period – he grew and delivered 150 tonnes more than that. The admission cost Mr Galati $200,000 towards the costs of the government lawyers. And today, Supreme Court judge Paul Tottle handed down an additional $40,000 in punitive fines.Mr Galati made around $148,000 from the sale of the extra 150 tonnes of potatoes. More

UK: European agribusiness representatives visit Hutton Institute to establish potato links

German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visitors (c) James Hutton LtdJames Hutton Limited, the James Hutton Institute’s commercial subsidiary, has welcomed two delegations of European visitors to the Institute’s Dundee site as part of efforts to share knowledge and ideas with a huge variety of interest groups across the globe. A group of 20 visitors from the German-Irish Chamber of Industry and Commerce visited the Institute as part of a market research trip to investigate the potato supply chain in the UK and Ireland. After a brief introduction to the Institute’s work, the delegation visited the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC), the UK’s genebank of landrace and wild potatoes, which is held in trust at the Dundee site. Similarly, a group of 25 members of FIWAP, a non-profit organisation responsible for the promotion and improvement of potatoes and seed potatoes in the southern Belgian area of Wallonia, visited the Institute’s site in Dundee to gain a close understanding of the Scottish potato seed and exporting industries  Continue reading

Australia: Potato growers after state

Potato growers have now turned their attention to the state government to seek reimbursement for legal costs after the WA Premier stepped-in to stop a civil lawsuit against the spud king, Tony Galati. The call came after spud king Tony Galati admitted guilt in the Supreme Court to a contempt of court charge which related to an injunction ordering him to stop growing more potatoes than he was allowed to. In court last week, Mr Galati was ordered to pay $200,000 in legal costs, and is also expected to receive a fine which is due to be handed down within the next seven days. The contempt charge related to a legal fight Mr Galati lost in November 2015 to stop an injunction when the Supreme Court sided with the Potato Marketing Corporation. More

Potato wars in Australia: Anger boils as WA premier drops ‘bizarre’ case against spud king

The Western Australian premier has provoked the ire of the potato-growing lobby for instructing the state solicitor’s office to drop a long-running court case against the self-styled potato kingpin Tony Galati. Galati, WA’s largest potato grower and proprietor of the Spudshed chain of independent supermarkets, was sued by the Potato Marketing Corporation in 2015 for exceeding his potato quota. The case was still going through the supreme court when the Barnett government deregulated the potato industry on 1 July 2016, abolishing the PMC and the quota system which had dictated potato growing in the state since the 1940s. The Potato Growers Association, still incensed by Galati’s decision to give away 200 tonnes of excess potatoes in January 2015 rather than stick to his quota, said the premier, Mark McGowan, should not have halted the court case without first consulting growers. More

UK: Growers missing out on increased yields that precision farming offers

Growers could be missing out on increased crop yields and improved soil quality if they overlook adopting the latest precision farming techniques. A three year AHDB project, which is now in its final year, has so far revealed UK growers could be benefiting from controlled traffic farming (CTF) techniques, resulting in better soil quality and increased yields. Part of the study assesses the use of CTF in horticulture to reduce field area wheeled by machinery in order to develop soil structure and lead to less energy intensive cultivations. Dr Paul Newell Price, RSK ADAS, said: “Controlled traffic systems can improve the efficiency and profitability of horticultural production by increasing opportunities to access the land, reducing input costs and evening up yields across each planted area.”  Continue reading

US: Updating Cuba market access proposals

Several efforts to open the Cuban market for US potatoes have occurred in the last 17 years.  The most recent was last March with a potato industry visit to the island just 103 miles south of Florida.  Cuban officials expressed an interest in US potatoes after that visit. Because of that interest, industry officials met last week to review the most recent proposed market access protocol for US seed and fresh potato market access to Cuba. To restart the process, industry experts are looking at the 2009 unsigned agreement and seeing how it might be improved.  APHIS will submit the agreed upon version to Cuba to kick off the new effort. (Source: Potatoes USA)

US: Northwest Potato Research Consortium awarded grants for 37 regional potato projects

The Northwest Potato Research Consortium recently approved a combined $1.5 million in grant funding to 37 research projects. The consortium, formed in 2012, is funded with $650,000 each from the Idaho and Washington potato commissions and $200,000 from the Oregon Potato Commission to support regional potato research. Andy Jensen, who manages the consortium, said researchers were invited to present potential projects to the consortium during an October meeting in Boise, where 51 projects were approved to be re-submitted as full proposals. More

US: NPC asks EPA to keep chlorpyrifos available

Last week National Potato Council and an alliance of organizations wrote to EPA Administrator Pruitt in support of chlorpyrifos. EPA is to decide by month’s end on whether to revoke all tolerances of the insecticide as demanded in a 2007 petition filed by an environmental group. The Agency’s actions thus far seem to ignore established, scientifically sound analysis mandated by statute in order to implement a policy shift on chlorpyrifos. In light of the unprecedented regulatory action that EPA is proposing to undertake and the results it will have, NPC and others asked the EPA to deny the petition, maintain the existing tolerances and complete FIFRA’s registration review process for chlorpyrifos.

US: Tomorrow’s leaders trained at 2017 Potato Industry Leadership Institute

The 2017 Potato Industry Leadership Institute (PILI) provided training to 22 potato growers and industry representatives in leadership development, public policy, marketing, team building and public communication. The annual program, administered by the National Potato Council (NPC) and Potatoes USA, aims to cultivate the next generation of industry leaders. The PILI was held February 9-16, starting in Bangor and Aroostook County, Maine, and concluding in Washington, D.C. In Maine, the class received an overview of the local and national potato industry. Northern Maine potato grower Dominic LaJoie, NPC Vice President of Environmental Affairs, provided details on the Maine growing season. A PILI alumnus, LaJoie also spoke on how the program has benefited him as a grower and NPC leader. ohn Toaspern of Potatoes USA presented marketing insights, retail sales and the changes in consumer eating habits. He highlighted good news with world potato demand and potential new markets.  Continue reading

US: Uncertainty for seed growers

By Mike Telford – Chairman, UPGA Seed Division. Commodity prices are in the tank. Fresh table-stock potato returns in the West are a disaster; returns are below production cost for the fifth year in a row. Red and Yellow-potato prices are good but growers generally had a disaster on the farm side like what happened in the Red River Valley with heavy rains last summer. Fresh table-stock prices are higher in areas where United chapters actively pursue the market. Frozen-process contracts remain unsettled with negotiations swirling around from flat to down prices, and acres to be planted remain uncertain. All of this in spite of strong demand and finished product prices being up. Process growers nowadays not only have to know the volume and price of their contracts, but increasingly are uncertain about which variety they will need to grow for their customers. Net farm income is down which means farmers are once again farming their equity. Add to all of this the fact that potatoes are perhaps the highest input-cost crop grown, and also the crop with the highest risk. Is it any wonder there is a lot of uncertainty with seed growers’ customers? What is the seed grower to do? Continue reading

Potatoes: Going on the attack

Potatoes — which boosters describe as “America’s favorite vegetable” — are going on the offensive after years of fighting defensively. “We used to say, ‘It’s OK to eat potatoes,’” said Blair Richardson, president and CEO of Potatoes USA. The organization, formerly known as the U.S. Potato Board, is the nation’s potato marketing organization. Soon, however, his industry will begin to aggressively promote what it views as potatoes’ attractive combination of high nutritional value and affordability. Richardson spoke Wednesday at the first day of the annual two-day International Crop Expo in Grand Forks. The show features concurrent sessions in potatoes, soybeans/dry beans and small grains on both days, most led by North Dakota and Minnesota extension officials. Though potatoes are popular with consumers, they have critics, who insist that Americans should cut back on consumption. The potato industry has responded by stressing that spuds are safe to eat, Richardson said. More

US: Potato growers make voices heard

The National Potato Council (NPC) hosted the 2017 Potato D.C. Fly-In this week, where more than 150 U.S. potato growers and industry partners from across the country advocated for the industry’s most pressing federal policy priorities. Growers visited Capitol Hill and met with federal regulators at USDA and EPA. During their Hill visits, growers urged Congress to address key industry issues including: immigration reform, potato breeding research funding, regulatory reform, international trade policy and pesticide regulations.  Continue reading

‘Scottish potato growers may be losing small fortune’

Mr Clayton said there was scope to increase yieldsScottish potato growers could be missing out on up to £700 in missed margins per hectare. That was the message from AHDB Potatoes strategy director, Rob Clayton, at the Farming Scotland Conference in Carnoustie. He said AHDB analysis showed that the top 25% of potato producers found that improvements in seed rates and energy efficiency could be worth approximately £37,000 for the average grower. “Farmers are not collecting this extra income for a number of reasons,” said Mr Clayton. “Changes to seed and nitrogen rates and making simple investments to improve store performance can make a real difference to the bottom line. We need to work on supporting producers to change their practices to improve productivity and increase their yields and margins.” More

British potato growers said to ‘miss out on £37,000 a year’

ahdbUK potato growers could be missing out £700 per hectare according to Rob Clayton, AHDB Potatoes Strategy Director. Speaking at the Farming Scotland Conference in Carnoustie Rob, detailed an AHDB analysis which looked at some of the top 25% of producers and found that improvements in seed rates and energy efficiency could be worth approximately £37,000 for the average grower. He said: “Farmers are not collecting this extra income for a number of reasons. Changes to seed and nitrogen rates and making simple investments to improve store performance can make a real difference to the bottom line. We need to work on supporting producers to changes their practices to improve productivity and increase their yields and margins. Our Strategic Potato Farm Programme is a key part of those efforts.” When AHDB last analysed the figures in 2015 average UK potato yields were 48.8 tonnes per hectare, while Germany, France and Belgium were achieving yields of over 50 tonnes per hectare. Belgium was particularly strong with 56.2 tonnes on average. Continue reading

UK: Will Brexit offer new overseas opportunities for potato growers?

The potato sector is better placed than many other farming sectors to weather Brexit and make the most of future overseas trading opportunities, according to AHDB. Speaking at the AHDB Potatoes Winter Forum, held at Harper Adams University, AHDB senior analyst, Sarah Baker, said she expected the UK to try to negotiate some sort of preferential access to the single market. “The EU is a major trading partner and we need to be able to access these markets and them to be able to access ours. It is not in anyone’s interest to have huge tariff barriers. The potato sector already has some well-developed export markets outside the EU”, she said. Seed potatoes are a high value, important export; 60 per cent go to Egypt and Morocco and 13 per cent to other non-EU countries. Although the bulk of crisp exports went to EU countries in 2015, 13 per cent went to non-EU countries and demand is growing, said Ms Baker. There is an expanding market for high value, designer crisps such as Tyrells and a growing market outside the EU, offering potential opportunities for the industry. After leaving the EU, the UK will also have opportunities to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries which could mean new opportunities for agricultural products. FG Insight report

Scottish institute contributes rare potato seeds to global seed vault

Image result for rare potato varietiesA global seed vault designed to protect resources from future environmental catastrophes has received the first genetic potato material from the UK. The seeds are part of the Commonwealth Potato Collection (CPC) based at the James Hutton Institute near Dundee. The material will be stored at the Global Seed Vault, which is housed in a mountain on an island halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole. The CPC was established in the 1930s by British botanists and collectors. It is one of seven large potato genetic banks in the world and aims to safeguard the genetic diversity of the crop. BBC report

UK: Leaders needed to shape the future

ahdbPeople with a passion for agriculture are being urged to step forward and make a difference by applying for a role on the AHDB Board. The new Board Members will have oversight of the strategic direction for the whole organisation, as well as one with the additional responsibility to be Chair of its Potato Sector Board and the other with the additional responsibility to be Chair of its Pork Sector Board. Candidates will need to understand the complex pork or potato market dynamics and be able to lead those sector boards with passion, vision and strategic oversight. Departing Board Member and AHDB Potatoes Chair Fiona Fell is encouraging those from all agriculture-related backgrounds and fields to think about applying for the posts, even if it is something they have not previously considered. Fiona served as an independent member on the AHDB Potatoes Sector Board from 2008 before stepping up to Chair in 2014, when she was appointed to the main AHDB Board.  Continue reading

Potato exporters worry about the US withdrawing from TPP

US farmers are wondering how local growers and farmers who export their products to Asia will be affected by the decision of the new president Donald Trump to withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Washington and Oregon Potato Growers Convention, held January 24-26, featured many speakers, including one D.C. insider who shed light on what it might mean for the potato industry moving forward, according to NBC news. The National Potato Council’s executive vice president and CEO John Keeling tell the crowd that the effect of the TPP will be felt in the future, rather than the present. He added that there were aspects of the partnership that would have helped the potato industry, specifically when exporting to countries like Vietnam and Japan, where he says fast food chains like McDonald’s and KFC are constantly growing which increases demand for potatoes. Keeling says the TPP would have reduced tariffs in participating countries from 10-12% down to zero over five years. More

India: The Central Potato Research Institute (CPRI) at a glance – ‘In tune with the times’

Image result for shimla potato research instituteThe CPRI (Central Potato Research Institute) was established in 1949 in India. Since then it became a world-renowned and well respected research institute for potato research, potato breeding and potato development efforts in all. The headquarters of CPRI was shifted to Shimla in 1956 because this location provided the ideal conditions for producing and maintaining healthy potato seed and breeding new varieties from an extensive potato genetic base, especially given the altitude and the particular climate in the hills of Shimla – which provided the ideal conditions for potato production and seed multipication. CPRI’s infrastructure grew hugely from hereon… Watch video for more.

UK’s next generation potato farmers meet with Parliament

While British Prime Minister, Theresa May, was preparing to make her biggest Brexit speech to date – 12 delegates from AHDB Potatoes “Next Generation” scheme made their own mark on the Houses of Parliament. Attending their penultimate session in the program, the “Next Generation” of British potato farmers were given the opportunity to visit the iconic buildings to meet MPs Mark Spencer and Andrew Bridgen to discuss rural issues. The AHDB Potatoes’ Next Generation program enables future industry ambassadors to learn about areas of business that impact on the potato industry that they would not ordinarily be exposed to; preparing them to be the catalysts of future industry success. The group were able to discuss industry challenges, including the effects of Brexit, water abstraction, plant health, agricultural science and the Great British food and farming plan. More

Jamaica: $18-m project to cut need for imported Irish potato seeds

The Government has pumped more than $18 million into the establishment of an in vitro propagation of Irish potato seeds programme in a bid to reduce the country’s dependence on imported seeds. The Government is also hoping that the programme will increase the yields of Irish potato farmers across the island. The project, which is a component of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries’ National Irish Potato Development Programme, will be implemented with the assistance of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the Scientific Research Council (SRC), and the Northern Caribbean University (NCU). Under the project, three laboratories at the SRC, the Government-operated Bodles Research Station and the Northern Caribbean University will be propagating first-generation Irish potato seeds through tissue culture. More

US: Farming has bright future under Trump administration

Farming has bright future under Trump administration Jay Lehr isn’t opposed to free trade. In fact, he knows that American farmers, like the potato growers gathered here from around Washington and Oregon for the 2017 Potato Conference, need foreign markets, and the growth potential those markets provide. But Lehr, who says he has been advising President Trump on science and agriculture, said that a big multilateral trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which President Donald Trump recently announced the U.S. was withdrawing from, isn’t it. Most folks in ag thought the TPP would be good, but most have not read it,” said Lehr, the keynote speaker at this year’s Washington-Oregon Potato Conference. The TPP is like Obamacare. It’s thousands of pages kept in a locked room and members of Congress are not allowed to take notes when they read it. And that’s because there are over 50 sweetheart deals for supporters of the past president,” he said. Free trade is simple, Lehr said to a standing-room-only crowd at the Three Rivers Convention Center in Kennewick. “I’ll buy your stuff and won’t put a tariff on it if you buy my stuff and won’t put a tariff on it,” Lehr said. “It’s that simple. You don’t need a thousand pages.” More

Are Mexican avocado troubles part of tit-for-tat play over US potatoes?

An agricultural head from the Mexican state of Jalisco has reportedly blamed the recent blockage of an avocado shipment entering the U.S. on delays in allowing potato imports from north of the border. Around 120 metric tons (MT) of avocados from Jalisco were blocked from entering the United States, and the Jalisco Avocado Growers and Exporters Association (Apeajal) opted to re-direct the fruit to Canada. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave the green light to avocado imports from all Mexican regions in May last year. But Minister of Rural Development for the Mexican state of Jalisco (SEDER), Héctor Padilla, reportedly alleged U.S. authorities had not allowed the fruit to pass as a retaliatory measure. “SAGARPA would not ensure the entry of potatoes from the United States into Mexico, and as a consequence, the North Americans said: Well then the avocados can’t enter either,” Padilla told El Economista. He reportedly said Mexican potato growers were responsible for the delay, but expected Mexican President Peña Nieto to step in and allow access to U.S. potato imports. In a statement given to Fresh Fruit Portal, U.S. National Potato Council CEO John Keeling said while the sector was interested in regaining Mexican potato market access, he could not comment on the specifics of the Jalisco avocado situation. More

French Potato Association consider building a potato processing facility

Global demand for products from processed potatoes, particularly frozen fries, leads to the necessity of building a plant in France, said Arnaud Delacour, president of Union Nationale des Producteurs de Pommes de Terre – UNPT (French Association of Potato Producers), at their annual congress, January 24. Belgium, a leading country in processing potatoes, no longer has enough hectares to produce potatoes with the necessary crop rotations, he added, according to http://www.paysan-breton.fr/. For reasons of logistical costs, the processors need to be located near the production basins. UNPT has calculated that a plant would earn EUR800k per year to be established in France rather than in Belgium because of its proximity to production yields. At the annual congress, UNPT showed that trade is assured to more than 80% by the five major producing countries grouped in the NEPG (Germany, the Netherlands, France, Belgium and the United Kingdom) and France is directly interested in production. More

How the U.S.’s TPP withdrawal will affect local potato growers

Image result for potatoesPresident Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week, and many people are wondering how local growers and farmers who export their products to Asia will be affected. The Washington and Oregon Potato Growers Convention today featured many speakers, including one D.C. insider who shed a little light on what it might mean for the potato industry moving forward. Reporter Rex Carlin attended the convention to hear the National Potato Council’s Executive Vice President and CEO John Keeling tell the crowd today that the affect of dropping the TPP will be felt in the future, rather than the present. Because Congress never actually passed the TPP, it hadn’t gone into effect yet. But he added that there were aspects of the partnership that would have helped the potato industry, specifically when exporting to countries like Vietnam and Japan, where he says fast food chains like McDonald’s and KFC are constantly growing which increases demand for potatoes. More