Lessons on salt for dietitians … by a potato-chip maker

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Houston • Snack and soda makers that often are blamed for fueling the nation’s obesity rates also play a role in educating the dietitians who advise Americans on healthy eating. Companies such as Frito-Lay, Kellogg and Coca-Cola are essentially teaching the teachers. They’re offering seminars, online classes and workshops that are usually free to the nation’s dietitians as part of their behind-the-scenes efforts to burnish the image of their snacks …

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US: President Obama visits MSU Potato Breeding Program

During his trip last week to sign the 2014 Farm Bill at Michigan State University (MSU), President Obama took time to visit some of the university’s cutting-edge research facilities, including its potato breeding program. Dr. David Douches, the principle investigator of the MSU Potato Breeding and Genetics Program, and Dr. Robin Buell, professor of plant biology who led an international consortium of scientists to sequence the potato genome, hosted the president and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. Continue reading

Potato Marketing Association of North America discussed progress on 2014 contract negotiations

The Potato Marketing Association of North America held a special spring meeting this past week in Las Vegas, NV to discuss progress on the 2014 pre-season potato contract negotiations. Growers present expressed disappointment in the tone and direction of this year’s talks.  They felt that processors had established a good precedent for establishing sustainable prices by adjusting contract prices according to annual changes in the cost of producing potatoes. This method has worked successfully for both growers and processors as crop input costs varied dramatically over the past 6 years. Continue reading

US: North Dakota potato farmers spoiled crop, defrauded government for $840,000

Federal prosecutors say two North Dakota brothers and potato farmers defrauded the government out of nearly $840,000 by intentionally ruining their crops to collect insurance payments. Aaron Johnson and Derek Johnson, farmers near Cooperstown, were charged in federal District Court with conspiracy to commit crimes against the U.S. for the alleged potato-spoiling plot in 2006, as well as four counts of making false statements. The brothers’ company, Johnson Potato Co., was also charged. More

US: Seminars at International Crop Expo offer a wealth of information

If you grow small grains, soybeans or dry beans, or potatoes you will want to attend this year’s International Crop Expo (ICE) at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks. Information seminars will be offered on Feb. 19-20 for each of those crops, according to Lionel Olson, Grand Forks County Extension agent, and one of the organizers of the show. “Each year the committees that plan the seminars get together and through discussion come up with the problems that farmers faced during the last year,” Olson said. “We then try to match education seminars with those problems. We try to present topics that are on the cutting edge.” Full article and agenda

Researchers: Volunteer plants not a source of in-season spread of zebra chip disease

Volunteer potato plants growing from seed infected with zebra chip are likely too few in number and survive too briefly to contribute to the spread of the crop disease, according to new Oregon State University research findings. According to OSU plant pathology laboratory manager Jordan Eggers, “It looks like volunteers won’t be a source of the bacterium for in-season spread. The biggest source is migrating psyllids that have the bacterium.” More

Study shows PVY costs Idaho $34 million

Spud yield losses caused by potato virus Y cost Idaho’s economy about $34 million per year, according to results of a recently completed economic impact study by University of Idaho agricultural economist Chris McIntosh. The estimate includes $6.5 million in lost wages from 184 Idaho jobs that would otherwise be filled if not for PVY. McIntosh estimates direct losses to Idaho’s economy caused by PVY at $19.5 million, and indirect losses at $14.5 million. Based on his findings, McIntosh advises growers, “You need to be sure to not only look at current-season test results on seed lots but also ask for winter test results and make sure there wasn’t a differential between summer and winter tests.” More