The National Potato Council (NPC) hosted USDA staff from the Agricultural Marketing Service Plant Variety Protection Office and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Biotech Regulatory Services on a tour of Sterman Masser Potato Farm facilities in central Pennsylvania. The goal of the tour, which was held August 23, was to educate USDA staff on the details of potato production and the innovative work being done by Sterman Masser.
“NPC believes getting out of the office and into the field can shed light on the challenges growers face and the steps they take to address those challenges,” said John Keeling, NPC CEO.
The first stop was the Keystone Potato Products Facility, which is a dehydration plant that has a sustainability focus. Staffers learned how water is taken from abandoned anthracite mines and treated to remove iron and manganese. The filtered water is later returned to the watershed, restoring an environment affected by acid mine drainage. Steam created with the methane gas from the nearby landfill is used for dehydrating, cooking, peeling, and wash-down.
The tour also included a stop at the Masser solar panel farm and potato packing operations. Attendees capped the day with a visit to the famous Utz potato chip factory in Hanover, PA.
“The Pennsylvania potato tour provided an in-depth view of the challenges and innovative solutions of U.S. potato growers and processors,” said attendee Dr. Paul Zankowski, Commissioner, Plant Variety Protection Office, USDA. “The Sterman Masser potato facilities that we toured used state-of-the-art, sustainable methods to conserve water, energy, and other resources while supporting the local economy.”