UK: Potato industry to meet on eve of CIPC regulation change

Postharvest Showcase, one of the leading potato storage events in Great Britain, is to take place on 27 July, days before regulations on the use of Chlorpropham (CIPC) are to change. CIPC is the principal tool in the potato storage manager’s box when tackling sprout suppression in tubers. An interactive display at the event, provided by independent body the CIPC Stewardship Group, will demonstrate methods for effective use the treatment at the new lower levels using ‘active recirculation’ of air in the store, as part of their ‘No Fan, No Fog’ campaign. Innovations and future technology will also be on the agenda at the event. Dr James Covington of the University of Warwick will discuss his team’s research into electronic, non-destructive sensors to detect soft rot in potatoes as part of a keynote speaker programme.  Continue reading

Zambian farmer alleges market is flooded by cheap potato imports from South Africa

A commercial farmer has called on the Zambian government to protect potato growers from cheap imports from South Africa. Stuart Cooke, who is managing director of Chartonel Farms in Lusaka, said a lot of cheap potatoes are allowed onto the Zambian market from South Africa, which is disadvantaging local farmers. “Cheap imports are really affecting us. Our new crop is just coming in, but they have flooded the market with cheap imports from South Africa. Zambia is being used as a dumping ground for South African produce. Only when the price in South Africa is very low do they sell here and that affects our market in a big way,” Mr Cooke said. He said the local potato growers are able to satisfy the market. “We are capable of supplying the market throughout the year. We are on the market selling 11 months of the year, and I’m confident we can supply the market,” he said. More

UK: Brexit affects potato industry

During the Europatat Congress in Antwerp, Belgium, Cedric Porter of the World Potato Markets gave a presentation titled Brexit and the Potato Industry. Last June, 52 per cent of the British people voted to leave the European Union, and this month, negotiations between the UK and the EU will start. Brexit itself is planned for March 29, 2019. However, last week’s general election in the UK has made the situation more uncertain. Prime Minister Theresa May was hoping to gain a majority by calling early elections, but she failed to do so. More

India: ‘28% GST on farm implements will ruin potato industry’

Punjab potato growers and dealers apprehend a further setback if the state government goes ahead with its proposal of 28% GST on farm implements used in potato growing industry and have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to reconsider the issue before final implementation of the new tax regime in July. “We are already a sick industry and the proposed 28% GST on farm implements will play havoc with farmers and dealers,” said president of Jalandhar Potato Growers Association (JPGA) Gurraj Singh Nijjar while talking to TOI on Saturday. Though potato dealers are not sure about the exact GST, which will imposed, they apprehend that it could be between 20%-28%. Nijjar said presently there was no VAT or duty on farm machinery, but they apprehend that the government could impose 28% GST on farm implements used for potato cultivation. More

Taiwan: Gov’t to control future GMO potato imports

Agriculture authorities say they’re prepared to implement controls to prevent the possible import of U.S. genetically modified (GMO) potatoes from affecting domestic growers. The U.S. recently applied with the Health and Welfare Ministry to import GMO potatoes, with the approval process expected to be completed next year at the earliest. However, concerns are being raised about the potential health impacts of GMO food products and the adverse effects of these imports on domestic potato farmers. The Council of Agriculture said Monday it would monitor future imports and call for proper labeling of foreign GMO potatoes. If approved for import, the GMO potatoes would be used in potato chips, French fries and other processed food products. The government currently allows five types of GMO products to be imported, namely soybeans, corn, cotton, rapeseed and sugar beets. More

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

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

US: Omnibus bill increases potato breeding funds

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate recently passed a $1 trillion omnibus spending bill that funds the government through the end of September. The conference report includes an increase in the NIFA Potato Breeding Research line item to $2.25 million. During the Potato D.C. Fly-In, National Potato Council (NPC) attendees advocated for $2.25 million to be included in the final agreement. NPC is pleased that the requested amount for this appropriations cycle was included. “Funding from the Potato Research Special Grants has supported the development of varieties that have improved levels of resistance to pests of concern including late blight, early blight and potato cyst nematodes, and improved market quality,” said NPC CEO John Keeling. “This increase will further help the industry address emerging pests and diseases.” (Source: National Potato Council Insider Report)

US: Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

Impact of late blight disease on rows of conventional potatoes (left) and Innate™ Gen 2 potatoes (right) in Michigan as seen in this Nov 2015 photo.With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved earlier this month the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company. The move means that the J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight. But genetically modified crops have been controversial in the past. Critics of the process say that won’t be any different for the Simplot potatoes, the second generation to be sold under the brand name Innate, although company officials say otherwise. 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

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)

Simplot postpones commercial introduction of Innate GMO potatoes in Canada

Simplot postpones commercial introduction of Innate GMO potatoes in CanadaSimplot Plant Sciences will not commercially launch its Innate GMO potatoes in Canada this year, despite regulatory approval and interest among potato farmers to grow these new potatoes, according to a report by CBC News. Doug Cole, director of marketing and communications, said Simplot is holding off allowing commercial growth of Innate potatoes in Canada until there’s a proven market for them. According to Cole, “There is strong interest from the grower community and retailers are also interested.” But it’s a very involved purchase decision.” He said there are about five acres of test plots on Prince Edward Island this year and the mentioned that Simplot Plant Sciences has also test plots in Ontario and Manitoba. More

UK: Sainsbury Laboratory received approval for trial of GMO potatoes

In the United Kingdom, farming minister George Eustice (DEFRA) has approved a four-year trial of genetically modified (GM) potatoes at The Sainsbury Laboratory in Norwich between 2017 and 2021. The trial site, which is at the John Innes Centre, must meet various restrictions, including maintaining a width of 20 metres around the GM plants, and not exceed 1,000 sq m in size. The field trials are part of TSL’s Potato Partnership Project to develop a Maris Piper potato that is blight and nematode resistant, bruises less and produces less acrylamide when cooked at high temperatures. More

US: Washington State potato producers to vote on marketing order

Washington State potato producers will vote from June 9–23, 2017, on whether to continue the federal marketing order regulating the handling of Irish potatoes grown in Washington. Producers who have produced potatoes in Washington from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, are eligible to vote. A continuance referendum is required every six years. The Washington potato marketing order provides authority for the regulation of potato grade, size, quality, maturity, and container. The state of Washington Potato Committee locally administers the marketing order. Notice of the referendum in the Federal Register.

US: Genetically engineered potatoes approved for Maine

With little fanfare, the Maine Board of Pesticides Control unanimously approved on Friday morning the registration of three new types of genetically engineered potatoes that have been developed by a major Idaho agribusiness company. The move means that the J.R. Simplot Co.’s Russet Burbank, Ranger Russet and Atlantic potatoes could be planted in Maine fields at any time. These potatoes were created by adding genes from a wild potato plant and are designed to be resistant to late blight, the disease that caused the mid-19th century Irish Potato Famine and which remains a problem today. 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.

China predicts huge growth thanks to potatoes

China predicts huge growth thanks to potatoes, with the current Five-Year Plan recognizing the crop as one of the country’s four staple foods alongside rice, grains, and corn. The government plan is to focus on these staples in order to ensure the Chinese of food safety and security. Identifying potatoes as China’s fourth staple food has been long overdue. Although potatoes have historically been part of China’s various regional cuisines, their inclusion as a staple rarely happens in Chinese households, China Daily reported. The Communist Party of China (CPC) clearly defines food safety and security as among its top agendas in the present Five-Year Plan, which targets 6.67 hectares dedicated to potato production by 2020. The Ministry of Agriculture envisions potatoes will constitute 30 percent of China’s food. Chinese potato scientists also recently produced virus-resistant potatoes, which are capable of 30-50 percent higher yields compared to ordinary counterparts. More

Accelerating Africa’s economic growth through root and tuber crops

The 13th International Symposium for the International Society for Tropical Root Crops- Africa Branch (ISTRC-AB) has kicked off in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. The four day meeting (5-8 March) brings together over 300 delegates from government agriculture ministries in Africa, development partners, international and national agriculture research organisations, academia, private sector as well as farmers with an interest in root and tuber crops in Africa. Participants will present and discuss latest research, innovations, technologies and trends on root crops. “We hope we will get practical hands-on solutions, that can help address farmers’ constraints in production of root crops, with the modest investment dedicated to research and development of these crops” said Tanzania’s Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries (MALF). He encouraged researchers to work together with the farmers, policy makers and all stakeholders, for co-ownership of research findings to increase chances of technology adoption for the intended improved productivity and utilization of root crops. More

Accessing agriculture’s ‘big data’

This article was written by David Saxowsky, Associate Professor,NDSU Agribusiness and Applied Economics Department.

For several years, farmers have been using technology to measure yields, monitor plant growth, and adjust the application rates for seed, fertilizer and pesticides. These practices are accumulating massive amounts of data — also referred to as “big data.” But how might big data be managed? What information will be available to whom? Technology, for example, frequently fits the category of “private but available for a price.” How about images of a growing crop or a livestock herd? Is that information “private to me and not available to you?” Recently, it was suggested that perhaps the questions involving big data should be categorized as collecting the data, sharing or transferring the data, and using the data. The general question appears to be “who can do what” with respect to agriculture’s big data. Who can collect the data, who can transfer the data to whom and who can use the data?

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Belize, Mexico: Finding a potato solution

Last week reported on the 2.5 million pounds of Belizean potatoes that were in danger of going to waste, because they were unable to compete with the larger, cheaper, Mexican potatoes that are currently on the market. Normally, by the time the Belizean red potatoes are ready to enter the market, the Ministry of Agriculture cuts back on the importation of the competition. And according to Minister Godwin Hulse, that’s exactly what happened, but the problem is that the Mexican potatoes in the country now are contraband. So now, the potato farmers have been forced to reduce their prices to about 75 cents, which they think is unfair. More

US: Growers stand up for potatoes on Capitol Hill

The National Potato Council hosted the 2017 Potato D.C. Fly-In from February 13-16, bringing together more than 150 U.S. potato growers and industry partners from across the country to advocate 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 and international trade policy (follow links for details on actions requested). Before attendees took their messages to the Hill, they heard from Representatives Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA), in addition to renowned political analysts Dr. Larry Sabato from the University of Virginia Center for Politics and Charlie Cook, publisher of The Cook Political Report. Industry experts on tax, GMO disclosure and the Food Safety Modernization Act also addressed the general sessions. More

Brazil imposes anti-dumping duty on frozen potato from Germany, Belgium, France and The Netherlands

Last week the Brazilian Government has decided to impose an anti-dumping duty on frozen potatoes imported from Germany, Belgium, France and The Netherlands. Brazil is an important export market for potato processors in Western Europe, so this duty can have significant economic impact for the processors. The Brazilian government started an anti-dumping investigation on the import of frozen potato products from these countries in 2015. The anti-dumping measure is a tool agreed to under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules and requires a formal investigation according to a defined protocol. The investigation aims to assess if the imported products are sold at a lower price than the product price in the country of origin. Brazil started the anti-dumping investigation following a complaint by the Brazilian Potato Processing Company Bem Brazil Alimentos Ltda. More

India: Potato growers urge government to waive loans

After claiming to have suffered huge losses after the governments demonetisation move, the Jalandhar potato growers’ association (JPGA) on Monday threatened to throw their crops in front of banks if the government does not waive their loans taken against the crops. “Due to demonetisation, we have suffered the loss of two consecutive crops. There are no buyers of potatoes in any state,” said Jaswinder Singh Sangha, general secretary of the association. “If the situation does not get rectified within a week, we will be left with no other option than to intensify our agitation against demonetisation,” he added. President of the association Raghbir Singh said, “Potato seed production is an expensive activity and the farmers in Punjab have raised massive loans from banks owing to the heavy investment required to produce quality seeds, but are suffering from heavy losses.” 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

Acrylamide needs to be regulated at the source, says expert

Image result for acrylamideThe EU Commission announced it was going to set maximum acrylamide levels in food last week (Thursday 9), but how can the chemical be managed? Food Navigator spoke to expert Gregor McCombie from Kantonales Labor Zurich, to find out how the industry could reduce their toxicity levels. Kantonales Labor Zurich is a laboratory dedicated to food safety and legislation. McCombie says that setting legal limits for acrylamide is problematic and instead the industry should be regulating reducing sugars for potatoes intended for (deep) frying or roasting as a more effective and easier to enforce method, than reducing acrylamide in final products. “Just considering legal limits on acrylamide in final products is problematic, as limits would need to be high in order to prevent a quasi-ban on certain foods. However, a high limit also equates to an approval up to that level, which will invariably be too high for a carcinogenic substance like acrylamide”. Similarly, McCombie says that the government has underestimated home-cooking, which cannot be regulated, and regulating cooking processes in restaurants is “impractical,” he says. Instead, McCombie suggests regulation at the source as being the most logical answer, urging the food industry to use potato varieties with low reducing sugars and storing them correctly. More