Former Grower Achievement Award Winner Elected Chairman Of U.S. Potato Board
Todd Michael, of Michael Farms in Urbana, OH, was elected chairman of the United States Potato Board (USPB) earlier this month at the organization’s 39th Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, CO.
A farming operation that has been in the limelight before, Michael Farms was the recipient of American Vegetable Grower’s 2004 Grower Achievement Award. The annual award recognizes excellence in technological innovation, marketing, food safety, industry leadership, and spirit of achievement.
Exemplifying the farm’s commitment to being a leader in the industry, Michael accepted the gavel from Immediate Past Chairman Cheryl Koompin of American Falls, ID. He begins his sixth year on the USPB, having completed two years as co-chairman of the Domestic Marketing Committee, and one year as co-chairman on the Industry Communications & Policy Committee.
Speaking to the full USPB at the meeting in Colorado, Michael thanked all of the board members for electing him, and for their support and confidence. “Forty years ago, my father was a member of the National Potato Council (NPC) committee that created the USPB,” he said. “This committee lobbied Congress to pass the law authorizing the Potato Research and Promotion Act.
“This committee then reached out to more than 15,000 growers for their support of a nationwide potato marketing program through mandatory assessments. They did this for one reason: They were witnessing declining potato consumption year after year, despite their best individual marketing efforts.
“Over these past 40 years, the decline in potato demand continued, but at a much slower pace. This past year that all changed for the first time ever, consumer demand for fresh potatoes increased. During these past few years, our industry has improved consumer attitudes. Today, only 18 percent of our consumers, people who love potatoes, say they are trying to eat less of them. This used to be one-third of consumer respondents, then last year it was one-quarter. Today, it is less than one-fifth, and this clearly demonstrates improving consumer perceptions.”
In 2002, Michael served as president of the NPC and had worked on beginning an industry wide trade expo encompassing all potato production sectors and creation of the Industry Leadership Institute. He farms 2,700 acres with his two brothers, Scott and Kurt, including the farm originally started by their father, Doug.
In 1980, while still in college, the brothers formed Michael Farms, Inc., a family farming corporation. He is a proud graduate of The Ohio State University, earning degrees in vegetable production and ag business. Michael Farms grow white, yellow, russet and red potatoes. They also produce green beans, sweet corn, and cabbage, all of which is grown for fresh market use and packed at the farm. Todd has been married to Jill since 1982, and they have two children, Kyle, age 27, and Kathy, age 25.
As USPB Chairman, Michael is looking forward to a very productive year. “We have a new long-range plan and a great staff to help implement our programs for increasing demand for potatoes,” he said. “I’ve been involved in this industry at the national level for the past 29 years. If there’s one thing I know, it’s the best ideas and solutions come from everyone, so I will be challenging each board member to step forward and increase their representation of the USPB at their local industry level.”
Click here for more information on the Grower Achievement Award.
Source: USPB press release